Potato (Solanum tuberosum)

Bunches of Potatoes Photo Courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Potatoes.jpg
Potato Plant Photo Courtesy of http://persoon.si.edu/PlantImages/

The History of the Potato

      500 years ago, Incan villagers tilled the land in the Andes Mountains in South America.  Potatoes of every texture, flavor, and color were faIncan Pyramid Picture from Clipartrmed.  Potatoes were a staple of the Incan diet, but were unknown outside of the Andes until Francisco Pizarro of Spain traveled to South America in 1531. 

      Although Pizarro and his conquerors were seeking for gold, silver, and converts to Christianity and not plants, they inevitably brought the nutritious and delicious potato back to Europe with them.  During the last four and a half centuries since Pizarro brought the potato back to Europe, it has become one of the world’s twenty essential crops to feed humanity. 

      Eaten everywhere from fast food chains to gourmet restaurants, the potato is a truly remarkable little ball of starch.  Who would have ever thought that Pizarro would be revered for bringing potatoes back to Europe?  He was some kind of agricultural genius. 

      Speaking of genuses (genera), let’s learn more about the Classification of the potato!