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Polymnia edulis - Wedd.

Common Name Yacon Strawberry
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known
Range S. America - Colombia, Ecuador, Peru in the Andes.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Polymnia edulis Yacon Strawberry

Polymnia edulis Yacon Strawberry


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Polymnia edulis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.6 m (2ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8 and is frost tender. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) 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.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Polymnia sonchifolia. Smallanthus sonchifolius

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root
Edible Uses: Drink  Sweetener

Root - raw or cooked[1, 22, 46, 61]. When first harvested, the root can taste somewhat starchy[K], but it soon becomes sweet, crisp and juicy and is delicious eaten raw[196, K]. The flavour is further improved by exposure to the sun although some of the crispness will be lost[97, 183, K]. The root can be eaten like a fruit or diced and added to salads[183]. The skin has a somewhat resinous taste so it is usually removed[196]. The cooked root retains is sweetness and crispness[196]. Individual roots can weigh up to 500g[196]. The nutritional value is low because the root contains a high quantity of inulin, a carbohydrate that the human body cannot utilize[196]. The grated pulp of the root is squeezed through a cloth to yield a sweet refreshing drink[183]. This juice can be concentrated to form dark brown blocks of sugar called 'chancaca' in S. America[183, 196]. Leaves and stems - cooked as a vegetable[183, 196]. They contain 11 - 17% 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.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

For best results, this plant requires a warm position in a deep rich soil[1], though it survives even when growing in poor soils[196]. Plants are fast-growing[196]. In S. America, they succeed in areas with annual rainfall varying from 900 - 3500mm[196], though are likely to succeed with less rain in temperate zones. The yacon is cultivated for its edible tuber in the Andes, and is sometimes used in sub-tropical summer bedding schemes in Britain, though it is not very hardy[1]. The top growth is killed back by frost but the tubers can tolerate at least light frosts[196]. Plants are unaffected by day-length and so can produce good yields of roots in temperate zones[196]. One report says that plants take 6 - 7 months to produce a crop from planting out[196], though on our Cornwall trial ground they have cropped quite well with a 5 month growing period[K]. The roots are brittle and must be harvested with care to avoid damage[196]. Yields of 38 tonnes per hectare have been recorded in South America[196], whilst yields of over 2 kilos per plant have been achieved outdoors in Cornwall[K]. The harvested roots can be stored for several months[196]. Plants have not been selected for flavour or yield, some roots can be exceedingly sweet whilst others are fairly bland[196]. Plants might be useful in agroforestry because they succeed under trees[196], though in the relatively sunless climes of Britain the plants are not likely to do well in the shade of trees[K].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow mid winter in a warm greenhouse and only just cover the seed[1]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away well. Plants do not usually produce flowers in Britain and therefore seed has to be obtained from other countries[K]. Division in autumn. The plant forms 2 distinct types of tuber. Large tubers, usually on thin roots 2 - 5cm long, are used as storage organs and do not have the capacity to form new shoots. These are the tubers that are usually eaten. Smaller tubers are formed in a cluster around the stem. These form the shoots for the following year's growth and so are the ones that should be stored. Dig up the plants in the autumn once the top growth has been cut down by frost. Remove the large tubers for food, cut the main stems back to about 10cm long and store these stems with their cluster of small tubers in a cool frost-free place. Do not let them dry out. Pot them up in early spring in a greenhouse. When they come into active growth divide each cluster into individual shoots with their tubers attached and repot these. Plant them out in late spring after the last expected frosts[K]. Cuttings of basal shoots in early spring in a warm greenhouse[1]. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

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
Polymnia uvedaliaBearsfootPerennial2.7 -  LMHNM02 

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.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Robert P. Nederpelt   Fri Nov 29 12:29:30 2002

Link: IPGRI Andean roots and tubers: Ahipa, arracacha, maca and yacon PDF file available

Carol   Tue Nov 11 15:33:50 2003

I was intrigued by the description that I saw for this plant in the Nichols Farm Nursery catalog (Washington state, U.S.)and decided to try it. I live in SW Pennsylvania, USDA zone 5. The 6-8" tall potted plant arrived safely (I was impressed with the excellent packing job!), but too early for planting out in my area, so I kept it under lights with my other seedlings until I could harden it off and get it into open ground. We had an unusually cool and quite rainy growing season this year, and the plant got off to rather a slow start. Once established, however (on the west side of my red brick house, which gave it the tropical heat I felt it would appreciate when the sun did shine!) it quite quickly grew to about 4 feet before a severe wind/rainstorm broke off the top foot or so. The side shoots took over and continued to grow enthusiastically, however, and withstood several light frosts (the first about 2 weeks early for my area, on Oct. 1) with only minor blackening of the more exposed leaves, which were quite exotic-looking and drew comments from visitors over the summer. I left it to enjoy a long, mild Indian summer period until truly severe cold was imminent (28F, on Nov.7) and chopped the ,woody stalk off with a machete.(!) Digging the tubers was quite an eye-opening experience, as I found large, somewhat intertwined tubers the size of large yams, but with the smooth skin the texture and color of white potatoes. I found they had the taste and texture, however, of Jerusalem artichokes, and the smaller tubers immediately beneath the stalk were much smaller & knobby exactly like the J. artichokes. After washing & weighing the harvest, I found that my solitary plant yielded about 4 1/2 pounds of edible tubers, with enough of the small "planting tubers" to give me at least 2-3 dozen new plants next year if I wanted that many (I don't have room!). Thanks to the info in the entry above, I will plant some out in pots in my cold frame, but I also will leave some in my refrigerator, just to see if they will remain in good condition for planting, and also pot some tubers and keep them in the fridge until late winter. They already look ready, willing, and able to grow, had I the proper climate! Since I find them so similar to J. artichokes, I have enjoyed them raw & added at the end to a stir-fry, but have no intention of cooking them otherwise, as I never cared for cooked J. artichokes. Seems to me that this relatively unknown plant would be a valuable addition to any temperate climate garden. Its yields would make excellent nutritious and inexpensive livestock feed for some animals as well, I should think.

Professor Marshall A.C.A.Odii   Tue May 22 2007

My visit to Schedewinbeke provided me an opportunity to visit a man who is close to nature and who does things in slightly different way. When I ate the tuber of the Yacon crop which I saw for the first time, I immediately liked the crop and began to suspect that it might have some medecinal impact on humans. I would like to see if I could grow the crop in a tropical environment such as Nigeria Thanks Professor Marshall A.C.A.Odii Department of Agricultural Economics Federal University of Technology Owerri PMB 1526, Imo State, Nigeria

Al Kapuler   Sun Feb 10 2008

Mabberley lists Yacon as Smallanthus sonchifolia. The inulins are built from glucosyl-fructose (sucrose) with additional fructoses being added on inceasing the size. Average chain length 5 fructoses. Chicory has inulins with chain length of 25-30; the grasses have inulins with chain length of 200. So yacon has inulins that are easier to digest. Yacon also has free amino acids in the juice (work of Kapuler and Gurusiddiah decades ago). Steve Spangler brought yacon from South America (probably Peru) in the mid 1980's. http://ps.88uu.com.cn. PeaceSeeds.com --

GERALDINE   Tue Aug 5 2008


NIGEL MURISON   Wed Oct 7 2009

Nigel Murison 7 Oct. 2009 I will have Yacon reproductive tubers available this year(2009) email: [email protected]

Nigel Murison   Thu Oct 15 2009

I have Yacon reproductive tubers available this year (2009).email: [email protected] U.K.only.

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