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the web of life in southern Africa

Manihot esculenta (Cassava, Manioc)

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

Manihot esculenta (Cassava, Manioc)
Manihot esculenta (Cassava, Manioc)

Manihot esculenta, Nhancuco, lower slopes Mount Gorongosa, Mozambique. [photo Bart Wursten , Flora of Mozambique]

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.



  • Bellotti, A.C., Smith, L. & Lapointe, S.L. 1999. Recent advances in cassava pest management. Annual Review of Entomology 44: 343-370.