We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Ullucus tuberosus - Caldas.

Common Name Olluco
Family Basellaceae
USDA hardiness 8-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known
Range S. America - Peru, Bolivia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Ullucus tuberosus Olluco

Ullucus tuberosus Olluco


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Ullucus tuberosus is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9 and is frost tender. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root
Edible Uses:

Tuber - cooked[61, 196]. Starchy and mucilaginous[1, 2, 22, 27, 34]. The tubers can be up to 8cm long[K]. Ulluco is a staple food in South America, being used in most of the ways that potatoes are used, indeed when boiled and fried they taste very much like potatoes[183]. In the Andes a popular dish called 'chuño' is made by alternately freezing and drying the tubers[183]. The tubers contain about 14% carbohydrate, 1 - 2% protein, almost no fat or fibre[196]. They are fairly rich in vitamin C, about 23mg per 100g fresh weight[196]. The tubers store well and will last up to 12 months in cool conditions[196]. Leaves - raw or cooked[22, 183, 196]. Mucilaginous and not that exciting[K]. They contain about 12% protein dry weight[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.
Vitamin C

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a rich light soil with plenty of leaf mould[27, 34, 200]. Produces reasonable yields in marginal soils[196]. Established plants are moderately drought tolerant[196]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 to 6.5[196]. Ulluco is often cultivated for its edible tubers in S. America[183, 196], it has been tried, unsuccessfully, as a potato substitute in Britain[1]. It is about as hardy as the potato plant in Britain, the foliage withstanding light frosts and the tubers tolerating colder conditions[K]. One report says that plants are very frost-resistant[171] but that has not been our experience[K]. The tubers are not formed until late in the season so a mild autumn is required for good yields. The tubers are formed at the roots and also from shoots growing out of the leaf axils and into the soil[K]. Earthing up the stems as tubers form in late summer can improve yields[196]. Average yields are 5 - 9 tonnes per hectare but there is a lot of potential to increase this[196] Slugs are very fond of this plant and will soon completely destroy it if given a chance[K]. Plants do not usually produce fertile seed but researchers in Finland have obtained seed under controlled circumstances[196].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - we have no information on this species but, if you can get hold of any seed, apart from letting us have some you could try sowing it in a warm greenhouse in early spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and either grow them on in pots in the greenhouse for their first year, or plant them out into the soil in the greenhouse. Division of tubers in the late autumn. Harvest them once the top growth has been killed by autumn frosts and store them in a cool but frost-free place over winter. Plant them out in April. Cuttings in summer. Very easy[K]. The stem only needs one leaf node to enable it to root [196].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Oca quina, Olluco, Ullucu, Chigua, Chuguas, Hubas, Melloco, Michini, Miguri, Muchuchi, Olloco, Papa lisa, Ryba, Timbos, Tiquino, Ulluma, Illako, Michurui, Micuche, Ruba, Rubia, Melloco, melloca, papa chola, papa lisa, papa verde, ruba, ulluco, ulluma.

Andes, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Peru, PNG, South America, Venezuela.

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 : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

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

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

Cecilia Ferreyra   Wed Apr 21 12:49:11 2004

Link: The National Academies Press Lost Crops of the Incas

Cecilia Ferreyra   Wed Apr 21 12:55:25 2004

Link: CIID: Biblioteca - Documentos EL MELLOCO: Características, técnicas de cultivo y potencial en Ecuador

Oscar   Wed Dec 7 2005

Hi My name is Oscar Back in August a friend give me and olluco. One single olluco. It is inside a water container. to my surprise flowers came out. It is by a window, and looks very happy. The flowers are about 12'' long and very healthy. Question: should I put the olluco in regular soil? Thanks. Oscar

Lulu Harvey   Sun Sep 13 2009

Thank you for your information. This is my first year cultivating ollucos and with your help I hope to be succesful. Best regards, Lulu

Antony Noy   Fri Jan 8 2010

Hello! My name is Antony Noy from London/UK. I have some ulluco tubers for sale. If interested please email me on: [email protected]

Add a comment

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 [email protected]. 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.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Ullucus tuberosus  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.