Potato

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Potato
The inside and outside of a potato
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Solanum
Species: S. tuberosum
Binomial name
Solanum tuberosum
L.

A potato is a type of vegetable. The scientific name of the potato plant is Solanum tuberosum. It contains a lot of starch and other carbohydrates. It is a small plant with large leaves. The part of the potato that people eat is a tuber that grows under the ground. It usually has a brown or pink skin and is white or yellow inside. If it gets light on it, the tuber turns green and will be poisonous.[1]

History[change | change source]

The potato is from the high and cool areas of the Andes of Peru. It began to be grown as a food crop more than 7,000 years ago.[2] When the Europeans came to South America in the 1500s they took the potato back to Europe.[2] It took nearly 200 years for the potato to become a widely grown crop. In the 1780s the farmers in Ireland began growing potatoes because they grew well in the poor soils. They also have most of the vitamins that people need to survive. The Irish became so dependent on the potato that when the crop failed in 1845 there was a famine and many people starved to death.[2][3]

The potato plant is now grown in many different parts of the world. Captain William Bligh planted potatoes on Bruny Island, Tasmania in 1792.[4] In Australia they are now the largest vegetable crop.[1]

Types[change | change source]

There are now many different types of potato. These have names such as:

  • Yukon Gold - developed in Canada[5]
  • Norgleam[6][7]
  • Yellow Finn
  • Bismark[8]
  • Coliban[8]
  • Pontiac[8]
  • Sequoia[8]
  • Desiree,[8] cream colored flesh, red skin.[9]
  • Bintje[8]

Scientists in Germany have used genetic engineering to make a potato called the Amflora, which could be grown to make starch for making other things in factories.[10]

Cooking[change | change source]

The potato is not very good to eat unless it is cooked. People cook potatoes by boiling, baking, roasting, or frying them. French fries or "chips" are potatoes cut into long pieces and fried until they are soft. Potato chips, often called crisps, are potatoes cut into very thin round pieces and fried until they are hard.

William Shakespeare wrote that the potato was an aphrodisiac,[11] but there is no evidence to show this is true.

image by Clusius (1583)

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Potato - growing potatoes in Australia.". www.potato.com.au. http://www.potato.com.au/. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Potato - History". www.indepthinfo.com. http://www.indepthinfo.com/potato/history.shtml. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
  3. "The History Place - Irish Potato Famine". www.historyplace.com. http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/famine/begins.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
  4. "DPIW - Tasmania's Potato History". www.dpiw.tas.gov.au. http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/webpages/ttar-5vs5t4?open. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
  5. "Yukon Gold Potato History". homecooking.about.com. http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/yukongoldhistry.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
  6. "Norgleam". Ag.ndsu.nodak.edu. http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/plantsci/potatoes/potatolinks/Norgleam.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  7. "Norgleam - Dictionary". Encyclo.co.uk. 2007-10-15. http://www.encyclo.co.uk/define/Norgleam. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 "DPIW - Potato Varieties". www.dpiw.tas.gov.au. http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/WebPages/TTAR-5P7VJY?open. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
  9. "Potato types - varieties of potatoes widely available". www.hub-uk.com. http://www.hub-uk.com/cooking02/tipspotato-types.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
  10. "EU Clashes Over Authorising GMO Maize Types, Potato - Food Industry News". www.flex-news-food.com. http://www.flex-news-food.com/pages/14339/European-Union/GMO/Potato/eu-clashes-authorising-gmo-maize-types-potato.html. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
  11. "The Untold History of the Potato - Book Reviews - Books - Entertainment". theage.com.au. http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/books/book-reviews/the-untold-history-of-the-potato/2009/04/09/1239222986145.html. Retrieved 2009-07-05.