We have over 100,000 visitors each month, but in the whole of 2013 less than £1,000 was raised from donations. We rely on donations and cannot continue to maintain our database and website unless this increases considerably in 2014. Please make a donation today. More information on our financial position >>>
Search Page Content
   Bookmark and Share
   
    By donating to PFAF, you can help support and expand our activities
    Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

Lepidium meyenii - Walp.                
                 
Common Name Maca
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
Synonyms
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Barren steppes, tundra and alpine plains, usually in limestone and clay soils, 3800 - 4800 metres[196].
Range S. America - Andes.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Lepidium meyenii is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.0 m (0ft 2in) by 0.3 m (1ft).
It is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Lepidium meyenii Maca


Lepidium meyenii Maca
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - cooked. Sweet and pleasantly flavoured[183]. They can be slowly baked[183]. After being dried they are cooked in water to make a sweet aromatic porridge that is called 'mazamorra' in S. America[183]. The nutritional value of dried Maca root is high, resembling cereal grains such as maize, rice and wheat. It has 59% carbohydrates, 10.2% protein, 8.5% fibre and 2.2% lipids.(263) It has a large amount of essential amino acids and higher levels of iron and calcium than potatoes.(263) Maca contains important amounts of fatty acids including linolenic, palmitic and oleic acids. It is rich in sterols and has a high mineral content as well[263]. The root resembles a small pear in both size and shape and is up to 8cm in diameter[183, 196]. The dried root contains about 13 - 16% protein and is rich in essential amino acids[196]. The fresh root is unusually high in iodine and iron[196]. The root does also contain small amounts of alkaloids, tannin and saponins[196]. The dried roots store well, 7 year old roots still had 9 - 10% protein[196]. Dried roots are brown, soft and sweet with a musky flavour, they retain their flavour for at least 2 years. Young leaves[183, 193] - raw or cooked[46, 61]. A hot cress-like flavour.
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Adaptogen;  Aphrodisiac;  Cancer;  Infertility;  Nutritive;  Tonic.

Maca is a little known herbal remedy and high energy food. It is growing in popularity due to its energizing effects, fertility enhancement and aphrodisiac qualities. Other traditional uses include increasing energy, stamina and endurance in athletes, promoting mental clarity, treating male impotence, and helping with menstrual irregularities and female hormonal imbalances including menopause and chronic fatigue syndrome[263].The roots are antifatigue, aphrodisiac, nutritive, immunostimulant, steroidal and tonic[263]. Maca, as with all crucifers, contains glucosinolates and isothiocyanates which have been shown to exhibit anticarcinogenicity by blocking formation of endogenous or exogenous carcinogens and so preventing initiation of carcinogenesis[263]. Naturally occurring and synthetic isothiocyanates are among the most effective chemopreventive agents known[263]. A wide variety of isothiocyanates prevent cancer of various tissues including the rat lung, mammary gland, oesophagus, liver, small intestine, colon, and bladder[263]. Non-published data suggests Maca has this same effect. Surprisingly, there is no apparent traditional use of Maca in the treatment of cancer[263]. In traditional Peruvian herbal medicine, Maca is used as an immunostimulant and in the treatment of anaemia, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, stomach cancer, sterility and other reproductive and sexual disorders as well as to enhance memory[263]. A chemical analysis conducted in 1981 showed the presence of biologically active aromatic isothiocyanates, especially p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which have reputed aphrodisiac properties[263]. Initial analysis of Maca indicate that the effects on fertility are a result of the glucosinolates. Alkaloids are also present, but have not yet been quantified.(263). There are reports that this plant can cure many problems of infertility[196].
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
Maca grows at high altitudes in the Andes is an inhospitable region of intense sunlight, violent winds and below freezing weather. With its extreme temperatures and poor rocky soil, the area rates among the world's worst farmland, yet over the centuries, Maca learned to flourish under these conditions[263]. The plant is said to deplete the soil in which it is grown. In S. America it is grown on a 10 year rotation, leaving the fields fallow for the next nine years to recover before their next crop[196]. It is most likely that the problem lies with the nutrient-poor and fragile soils that the plant is usually grown in, rather than the greed of the plant[196]. Plants grow in areas where frosts are common throughout the growing season and they are said to tolerate temperatures down to at least -10°, perhaps to -20°c if given a good mulch[196]. The main problem with growing them in the British climate is that they might need the rarefied heights of the Andes with thinner air and more intense solar radiation. It is quite likely that they will be unhappy in the moist and relatively sunless climate of this country[K]. Cultivated as a vegetable in the Andes of S. America[61], this species is probably grown at higher elevations than any other cultivated food crop[196]. There are some named forms[196]. The roots are usually harvested 6 - 7 months after sowing the seed, though they can take 9 months to mature[196]. Yields of 20 tonnes per hectare are possible[196]. Plants are self-fertile[196]. They are also quite possibly allelopathic (inhibiting the growth of nearby plants)[196].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring.
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
Walp.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[193]Low. T. Wild Food Plants of Australia.
Well presented, clear information and good photographs. An interesting read for the casual reader as well as the enthusiast
[196]Popenoe. H. et al Lost Crops of the Incas
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
[263]Raintree Nutrition Inc. Maca.htm
Web site giving lots of info on Lepidium meyenii.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Rich Fri Jun 08 18:00:55 2001
We have supplies of the dried flower of this plant if you would like any suplies of this drop us a line.

Maca - an ideal food for convalescents

Description and History

Maca (botanical name Lepidium meyenii) is a hardy perennial plant cultivated high in the Andean Mountain at altitudes from 11,000-14,500 feet. It has one of the highest frost tolerances among native cultivated species. It has a low-growing, mat-like stem system which at times goes unnoticed in a farmer's field. Its scalloped leaves lie close to the ground and it produces self-fertile small off-white flowers typical to the mustard family which it belongs to. The part used is the tuberous root which is pear shaped, up to 8 cm in diameter and off-white in colour. Unlike many other tuberous plants, Maca is propagated by seed. Although it is a perennial, it is grown as an annual, and 7-9 months from planting are required to produce the harvested roots. The area where Maca is found high in the Andes is an inhospitable region of intense sunlight, violent winds and below freezing weather. With its extreme temperatures and poor rocky soil, the area rates among the world's worst farmland, yet over the centuries, Maca learned to flourish under these conditions. Maca was domesticated about 2000 years ago by the Inca Indians and primitive cultivars of Maca have been found in archaeological sites dating as far back as 1600 B.C. To the Andean Indians, Maca is a valuable commodity. Because so little else grows in the region, Maca is often traded with communities at lower elevations for other staples like rice, corn, and beans. The dried roots can be stored for up to seven years. Native Peruvians have traditionally utilized Maca since before the time of the Incas for both nutritional and medicinal purposes. Maca is an important staple in the diets of the people indigenous to the region since it has the highest nutritional value of any food crop grown there. It is rich in sugars, protein, starches, and essential minerals, especially iodine and iron. The tuber is consumed fresh or dried. The fresh roots are considered a treat and are baked or roasted in ashes much like sweet potatoes. The dried roots are stored and later boiled in water or milk to make a porridge. In addition, they are often made into a popular sweet, fragrant, fermented drink called maca chicha. In Huancayo, Peru, even Maca jam and pudding are popular. The tuberous roots have a tangy taste and an aroma similar to butterscotch.

Medicinal Properties.

Maca has been used medicinally for centuries in South America to enhance fertility in humans and animals. Soon after the Spanish Conquest the Spanish found that their livestock were reproducing poorly in the highlands. The local Indians recommended feeding the animals Maca and so remarkable were the results that Spanish chroniclers gave in-depth reports. Even Colonial records of some 200 years ago indicate that payments of roughly 9 tons of Maca were demanded from one Andean area alone for this purpose. Its fertility enhancing properties were supported clinically as early as 1961, when researchers discovered it increased the fertility of rats. This energizing plant is also referred to as Peruvian ginseng, although Maca is not in the same family as ginseng. The nutritional value of dried Maca root is high, resembling cereal grains such as maize, rice and wheat. It has 59% carbohydrates, 10.2% protein, 8.5% fibre and 2.2% lipids. It has a large amount of essential amino acids and higher levels of iron and calcium than potatoes. Maca contains important amounts of fatty acids including linolenic, palmitic and oleic acids. It is rich in sterols and has a high mineral content as well. In addition to its rich supply of essential nutrients, Maca contains alkaloids, tannins and saponins. A chemical analysis conducted in 1981 showed the presence of biologically active aromatic isothiocyanates, especially p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which have reputed aphrodisiac properties. Initial analysis of Maca indicate that the effects on fertility are a result of the glucosinolates. Alkaloids are also present, but have not yet been quantified. Maca is growing in world popularity due to its energizing effects, fertility enhancement and aphrodisiac qualities. Other traditional uses include increasing energy, stamina and endurance in athletes, promoting mental clarity, treating male impotence, and helping with menstrual irregularities and female hormonal imbalances including menopause and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is used as an alternative to anabolic steroids by bodybuilders due to its richness in sterols. Today, dried Maca roots are ground to powder and sold in drug stores in capsules as a medicine and food supplement to increase stamina and fertility. In Peruvian herbal medicine, Maca is also used as an immunostimulant, for anemia, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, stomach cancer, sterility and other reproductive and sexual disorders as well as to enhance memory. The cultivation of Maca is increasing in the highlands of the Andes to meet the growing demand world wide for medicinal uses. In this severely economically depressed region, the market created for Maca will offer new and important sources of income for the Indigenous Peoples of the Andes. A new cultivar of Maca has been identified in the major growing regions of the highlands which will supply much of this new demand and it has been named Lepidium peruvianum Chacon sp.

Usage

We highly recommend maca for anyone recovering from a debilitating illness. It is easily digested and its naturally high mineral and sterol content make it ideal for helping the body to regain weight and vitality. There have, for example, been many reports of it helping people who are recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome.

Due to its sterol content, maca has also attracted the attention of many health-conscious athletes who wish to increase endurance, stamina and body mass in a safe and effective way. The increase is more gradual than that obtained through using banned substances such as anabolic steroids, but it is a natural weight gain that does not carry with it potential harm to the health.

Another effect that has been noted by many people is that when taken regularly maca greatly increases the vitality of the body. This can have quite a marked effect upon the libido, increasing both the quality and the staying power of sexual activity. Listed below are the comments of a few American Medical Practitioners with regard to the plant.

"As maca has become increasingly popular, its use has spread to medical practices. In the November, 1988 Townsend Letter for Doctors, physicians commented on the therapeutic uses of maca. Hugo Malaspina, M.D., a cardiologist practicing complementary medicine in Lima, Peru, has been using maca in his practice for ten years. He commonly recommends maca to women experiencing premenstrual discomfort or menopausal symptoms. "There are different medicinal plants that work on the ovaries by stimulating them," he says. "With maca though, we should say that it regulates the ovarian function." Dr. Malaspina further notes that "maca regulates the organs of internal secretion, such as the pituitary, the adrenal glands, and the pancreas. I have had perhaps two hundred female patients whose perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms are alleviated by taking maca.

Dr. Malaspina first found out about maca through a group of sexually active older men who were taking the herb with good results. "One of this group started taking maca and found he was able to perform satisfactorily in a sexual relationship with a lady friend. Soon everyone in the group began drinking the powdered maca as a beverage and enjoying the boost that the root was giving their hormonal functions. I have several of these men as patients, and their improvement prompted me to find out more about maca and begin recommending it to my other patients."

Aguila Calderon, M.D., is the former Dean of the Faculty of Human Medicine at the National University of Federico Villarreal in Lima. He says, "Maca has a lot of easily absorbable calcium, plus magnesium and a fair amount of silica. We are finding it very useful in treating the decalcification of bones in children and adults." In his practice, Dr. Calderon uses maca for male impotence, erectile dysfunction, menopausal symptoms, and general fatigue.

Chicago physician Gary F. Gordon, former President of the American College for Advancement in Medicine, is also a maca supporter. "We all hear rumours about various products like maca," he says. "But using this Peruvian root myself, I personally experienced a significant improvement in erectile tissue response. I call it nature's answer to Viagra. What I see in maca is a means of normalizing our steroid hormones like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Therefore it has the facility to forestall the hormonal changes of aging. It acts on men to restore them to a healthy functional status in which they experience a more active libido."

Dosage

Since maca is a food, it is used in much higher doses than most other medicinal herbs and can also be used over a long period of time without harmful effects. A minimum of 10g per day of the dried root is required for you to notice any real benefit, with 25g being the recommended amount and you can increase this considerably if you so desire. We normally mix the powder with a fruit juice and drink it between meals. You can also sprinkle it over food or add it to cooked foods such as soups and stews.

This leaflet is not intended to be used as a substitute for treatment by a qualified practitioner. You would be well advised to inform your practitioner that you are taking this herb and, should you experience any adverse reactions, immediately contact your practitioner for further guidance.

Elizabeth H.
van den BULKE Philippe Sun Jan 30 21:39:43 2005
I am looking for plants of MACA. I would like to cultivate her. Can you help me to know where it is possible to buy plants thank you very much
Elizabeth H.
k kiron Thu Apr 21 09:42:18 2005
i am intrested purchase seeds of maca. can anybody help me k kron. india
Elizabeth H.
Jon Thu Dec 29 2005
Hi, Wonderful site. A source of plants/seeds in different countries would be very helpful Jon (Australia) (home_414@hotmail.com)
Elizabeth H.
Weed Yaard Sun Jan 22 2006
Living in an extreme environment in the far north of North America, I'm interested in a source for Maca seed or other propagules.
Elizabeth H.
Thu Jan 19 2006
Great site, if someone can help me: I am looking for articles /study assays related to MACA in the treatment of liver cancer.
Elizabeth H.
Steve Dupey Sun Mar 12 2006
Horizen Herbs... in Oregon, and at least two sites on ebay sell seeds... but they only grew very poorly and produced a very few tiny rooted plants at my latitude and elevation in the Pacific Northwest USA (2000 feet). This plant is adapted for a very long cool season at very high altitudes... something hard to duplicate as this is at very low latitudes also.
Elizabeth H.
Carl Jones Mon Apr 24 2006
I am planning to include this herb in my garden. Is there any botanical supplier, for seeeds or plants. Off topic I am also interested in a source for yohimbe plants or seeds?
Elizabeth H.
Mon Jan 8 2007

BIOTHEMEN Information on maca in German language

Elizabeth H.
Susanne Mon Oct 9 2006
I would like to know about the propagation, and who is actually trading seeds?! My interest is the cultivation in Central Asia / Pamirs with also high altitudes Thank you for a reply scherije@hotmail.com
Elizabeth H.
Eduardo Moreno Sun Apr 1 2007
Hi. I'm in the US. Do you know where I might be able to purchase the seeds to this plant for raising in a home garden? Thanks in advance.
Elizabeth H.
Leo Aerts Thu Jun 12 2008
As most of previous messages are aging a bit, I wonder about the results and experiences of all these writers. Am I missing something, or was it a complete flop or disaster. Please tell us about your reviving with Maca. Thanks a lot !
Elizabeth H.
mjrausc Fri Oct 10 2008
Try looking up the Maca Magic web site they have alot of information about Maca and how to get the plant.
Elizabeth H.
ehtno Tue Nov 25 2008
hello if you search Maca seeds, there are some seeds in ethnoplants

ethnoplants seed of Lepidium meyenii "MACA"

Elizabeth H.
Carolyn Martinez Thu Jan 15 2009
Where or who is the best source of purchasing Maca seeds ...do you have email address?
Elizabeth H.
Reverend Gordon Soaring Hawk Tue Dec 22 2009
As part of my ministry, I am striving to preserve edible and medicinal plants of various Native American and indigenous peoples. I would like to obtain some seeds of Lepidium meyenii in order to preserve them. Please let me know a source to obtain them.
Elizabeth H.
david Tue Dec 22 2009
Reverend Hawk, b-and-t-world-seeds.com are probably the easiest place to start looking for rare useful plant seed, they have over 35000, they appear to have this plant listed at present.
Lev I.
Pg. 188 describes successful methods of producing roots on the UC Davis experimental fields 14ft above sea level 9b Although production of maca is restricted primarily to the central Andes of Peru, it can be grown successfully in other parts of the world. Field experiments in Davis, California indicate that this crop can be grown during the winter in this area as an annual crop if irrigation is available throughout its whole life cycle. At Davis, 4 to 6-week-old seedlings transplanted in the field at the middle of September initiated hypocotyl development in 6-8 weeks. At this time of the year daylength is approximately 10 hours and mean soil temperature approximately 12°C. The ‘hypocotyls’ reached a maximum size of 35-50 mm in diameter 7 months after transplanting, when daylength was over 13 hours and mean soil temperature was approximately 20°C. By the middle of March, at the end of the rainy season, irrigation water was supplied as needed. Floral stems developed at this stage at the base of the stem, reaching anthesis and fruit-setting 8-9 months after sowing the seed. Therefore, most of the plants completed their seed-to-seed cycle in 10-11 months. Jul 6 2011 12:00AM
Bioversity International
Lev I.
Jul 6 2011 12:00AM
Also UC Davis discovered maca does better in slightly alkaline soil,it is not day length sensitive and it is not affected by sun-light intensity. Anecdotal advice a friend in coastal northern California told me was maca needs a harsh winter to swell (Mind you the winters there rarely go below freezing, some years no freezing occur at all)
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Rate This Plant                                         
Please rate this plants for how successful you have found it to be. You will need to be logged in to do this. Our intention is not to create a list of 'popular' plants but rather to highlight plants that may be rare and unusual and that have been found to be useful by website users. This hopefully will encourage more people to use plants that they possibly would not have considered before.
     
                                                                                 
Add a comment/link                                         

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Lepidium meyenii  
             

Links To add a link to another website with useful info add the details here
Name of Site
URL of Site
Details