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Pachyrhizus ahipa - (Wedd.)Parodi.

Common Name Ahipa, Yam bean
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards The seed and green parts of the plant contain an insecticide (probably rotenone) and might be poisonous to people[196].
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range S. America.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Moist Soil Full sun
Pachyrhizus ahipa Ahipa, Yam bean

Pachyrhizus ahipa Ahipa, Yam bean


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Pachyrhizus ahipa is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is frost tender. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Dolichos ahipa.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

Root - raw or cooked[2]. Thirst quenching and nutritious with an easily digested starch[196]. The root is slow to discolour and remains crisp after slicing so it is often used in green and in fruit salads[196]. Young seed pods - cooked and used like French beans[1, 46, 61]. The pods must be thoroughly cooked in order to remove the toxic principle rotenone[200]. It is thought that some varieties might be free of rotenone and their mature seeds could therefore be used as a protein crop[196].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


The plant contains rotenone, the active ingredient in the insecticide 'derris', and it has the potential to be used as an insecticide[200]. Derris is a relatively safe insecticide in that it does not affect warm-blooded animals and also breaks down into harmless substances with 24 hours of being used. It does, however, kill some beneficial insects and is also toxic to fish and amphibians[K].

Special Uses

Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a light rich well-drained sandy soil[196]. Sometimes cultivated for its edible root in the Andes[196], this plant is not frost hardy but could possibly be grown as a summer crop in cool temperate zones. There are some named varieties[196]. When grown for its root the flowers should be removed, this is thought to increase the size of roots by up to 100%[196]. The plant is day-neutral and so is much more likely to produce tubers in this country than the related jicama, Pachyrrizus tuberosus[196]. It has produced good yields when grown in a greenhouse in Denmark[196]. A faster-maturing plant than the jicama, it flowers in about 10 weeks from seed and the root is harvested after 5 - 6 months[196]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in early spring in a warm greenhouse. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots of rich soil and grow them on fast. Plant them out after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection, such as a cloche, until they are growing away well. Division of the root tubers in the autumn. Store the roots in a cool but frost-free place over the winter, planting them into pots in the greenhouse in early spring and planting them out after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection, such as a cloche, until they are growing away well. Cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Pachyrhizus erosusYam Bean, Jicama, Mexican YamClimber Perennial6.0 9-12 FLMHNM402
Pachyrhizus tuberosusJicama, AjipoPerennial Climber6.0 9-11  LMNM302

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References

Links / References

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Readers comment

Ivan Viehoff   Thu Apr 29 12:48:02 2004

I don't know why this plant is rated "1", as it is a valuable commercial crop in the southern Bolivian highlands. In Bolivian markets it fetches higher prices than other root crops, so I think the farmers must be pleased with it. And personally I think it is delicious. An entire chapter of "Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation" is devoted to it, and thinks we are missing out on something good. In Bolivian markets it is classified as "fruit" rather than "vegetable", because of its sweetness. It is starchier than other roots that are eaten raw. It has a reputation for settling troubled stomachs which I can confirm, and found very comforting while travelling in that country. I scoured the markets for it once I found out about it. The thin grey skin can be pulled off by hand in strips quite easily. The white flesh is shot through with mauve fibres, and handling the cut flesh imparts a mauve stain to your fingers. Because of the fibres, it is best cut into slices to eat. I found it on sale in highland locations - Tupiza (2800m), Potos? (4000m), Uyun? (3700m) and Oruro (3700m), areas with much frost in the "winter" dry season, and where not much beyond oranges and banana is brought up from the lowlands for sale. But I couldn't find it in "Eastern Valley" areas - Sucre (2600m) or Cochabamba (2400m), markets which have much better selection of produce grown in frost-free valley bottoms. I saw a field at about 3300m which the locals claimed was for growing ahipa, between Potos? and Vitichi. So I do wonder if it is grown at somewhat higher altitudes than suggested in the book. Or perhaps the lower grown crop was already past its season when I got to the lower cities.

Link: Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation

Ken Fern   Tue May 4 16:55:33 2004

Dear Ivan

Thanks very much for your comments regarding Ahipa. Yes, the plant is a good food crop and would merit a considerably higher rating than one for edibility if we felt it could be grown successfully in the Temperate zone. As you are probably aware, the database is designed mainly for growers in temperate regions and so, because of Ahipa's frost tenderness, it cannot be a recommended crop at present.

I was interested in your observations that the plant might be grown in areas with frosts - the plant certainly merits further investigation in cooler latitudes especially since it is not sensitive to the longer periods of daylight experienced in higher latitudes. (Unlike the closely related Jicama [Pachyrhizus tuberosus] which is very reluctant to form its edible root away from the regular daylight hours of the tropical zone.)

Should we ever have the resources to develop a database of plants for the tropics then this plant would certainly merit a higher rating.

IK hope this helps answer your query.

Many thanks

Ken Fern

Eduardo O. Leidi   Sun Jul 16 2006

Dear Mr Fern, Certainly ahipa can be grown in temperate regions as our work has shown. By searching at databases such as Agricola, you will find our research articles. We also prepared a booklet in Spanish for local farmers based in our research in the South of Spain and Portugal. Regards, Dr Eduardo O. Leidi

Eduardo O. Leidi Montes   Tue Dec 12 2006

Enclosed you will find a web page still under contruction with useful details about ahipa cultivation.

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