home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Manihot (Cassava genus)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Malpighiales > Family: Euphorbiaceae

About 100 species, native to America. Cassava Manihot esculenta and three other species are cultivated in tropical areas of southern Africa and often occur as escapees. An additional species is cultivated in the region.

Species naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Manihot dichotoma

Native to Brazil.


Manihot esculenta (Cassava, Manioc)

Native to west-central Brazil and domesticated about 10 000 years ago. Cultivated in southern Africa and has also become naturalised in the region. Tapioca is manufactured from the starchy tuber. It can also be used to produce an alcoholic drink and to make flour. The leaves can be eaten as a vegetable. Cassava is the third greatest source of carbohydrates for humans in the world, with the greatest production in tropical Africa.

Manihot glaziovii (Ceara rubber)

Native to Brazil.


Manihot grahamii (Guazu mandioca, Mandioca brava)

Native from Brazil to Argentina.


Other species, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Manihot leptopoda (Maniva, Mandioca brava)

Native to Brazil.



  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.