What is a potato and what family it belongs to, a full description with a photo
There is no person in the world who has not tasted potatoes. For some it is the main food product, for others it is a source of extra calories. Potatoes are familiar to our diet, but how much do we know about the plant itself, its composition and origin, about the benefits and harms to the body? Let's talk about this in more detail.
The content of the article
What is potato: description
Potatoes are an amazing vegetable that feeds, heals and drinks all year round:
- more than 3000 methods of cooking potato dishes are known;
- used in traditional and folk medicine;
- used as a raw material for the production of ethyl alcohol.
Potato tubers are a storehouse of vitamins. In addition to water, starch (about 20%), proteins, fats, the root vegetable contains potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, calcium, iron, a large amount of vitamins C, B1, B2, B6 and malic, folic, citric acids.
The highest content of potassium, useful for the heart, blood vessels and nervous system, is found in the peel and pulp under the peel. To preserve this trace element, nutritionists advise to cook potatoes in their uniforms, that is, whole, without peeling. Boiled or baked potatoes contain a maximum of nutrients.
In terms of vitamin C content, potatoes are equivalent to oranges - 200 g of tubers contain a daily requirement.
Reference. After the spread of potatoes in Europe, scurvy epidemics stopped - the consumption of the vegetable in food covered half the daily dose of ascorbic acid.
The healing properties of potatoes are officially recognized. The extract of plant shoots is used for the production of antiviral and immunomodulating drugs, wound healing agents for the treatment of stomach ulcers and infectious-viral diseases of the skin and mucous membranes. In addition, ethyl alcohol is obtained from potatoes, the disinfecting properties of which, perhaps, everyone knows about.
Traditional medicine has long been using the beneficial properties of potatoes to treat colds, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, joints, skin diseases and burns. The methods of application are different: infusions, tinctures, inhalations, powders, decoctions, compresses.
Reference. Freshly squeezed potato juice is called a cure for a hundred diseases, including gastritis, anemia, hypertension, atherosclerosis, uterine fibroids, diabetes mellitus.
Under natural conditions in South America, it is a perennial, in agriculture in Europe and Russia it is cultivated as an annual plant.
The height of a potato bush is 30-80 cm, in some cases it can reach 1.5 m.
Bushes are formed from 3-7 stems. At the beginning of development, the stems are naked, ribbed or rounded, erect, as the bush grows, they are able to branch.
The underground part of the stem produces long shoots (stolons), on the tops of which tubers are formed. Stolons are easy to distinguish from roots - they are thicker and lighter. The length of the stolons will determine the size of the nest of the potato bush - scattered or compact.
At seedlings, the leaves are simple, in an adult plant - complex pubescent. The leaves are arranged on the stem in a spiral, consist of a central petiole and several pairs of lateral lobes, always ending in a single leaf-lobule. There are stipules at the junction of the petiole with the stem. Leaves die off after flowering, fruiting and tuber formation.
The color of stems and leaves varies from light green to dark green.Anthocyanin pigmentation is possible - depending on the type of soil and variety of tops, it can change color, taking on a purple or reddish tint.
From two to ten flowers are collected in inflorescences-curls, located at the top of the stem. Petals of white, pale pink or purple color are collected in a five-leaf corolla. Later, in place of the flowers, fruits ripen - berries with a diameter of 2 cm, similar to a green tomato, with small seeds. They ripen in autumn, acquiring a pleasant strawberry smell, but they are not eaten because of their toxicity.
Attention! Ground parts of potatoes (leaves, stems, fruits, green tubers) contain a poisonous plant substance solanine, which is dangerous for humans and animals when eaten.
The root system of potatoes is of two types:
- grown from seeds - stem, with a central root and a large number of small root processes;
- grown from a tuber - fibrous, consisting of the root systems of individual stems: sprout, near-stem and stolon.
The plant is propagated by seeds (for breeding new varieties) and vegetatively (by dividing the tuber or sprouted shoots). A plant grown from a tuber produces a crop in the first year.
Characteristics of raw materials
Among staples, potatoes are in fourth place after wheat, corn and rice.
Tubers are suitable not only for food, a significant part of the crop is used as an industrial raw material for the preparation of starch, ethyl alcohol, glucose and animal feed.
Potatoes produce bountiful yields without much effort and are easily adaptable to different climatic conditions.
Many people believe that the tuber (tuber) is the fruit of the potato. In fact, this is a modified shoot in which starch, sugar and other substances necessary for the development of the plant accumulate. This explains the high nutritional value of the tubers. Real fruits, as already mentioned, grow on the aerial part of the stem and are poisonous.
Potato tubers begin to form with the appearance of the first flower buds.
The shape and color of the tubers depend on the variety, type of soil and climatic growing conditions:
- the shape of the three main types - round, oval, elongated;
- peel and flesh colors - white, pink, purple, red, yellow.
The skin of the tubers is dense, smooth or rough. On the surface, eyes are clearly visible (buds that develop into new shoots) and lentils - small black dots through which the plant "breathes".
Potatoes are grown outdoors and in greenhouses. It is planted when the top layer of the soil warms up to + 8 ... + 10 ° С, and the air temperature reaches about + 20 ° С.
The plant is light-loving, not very demanding on the composition of the soil, but gives the greatest yield on light and medium loams. The need for water is average, potatoes tolerate short droughts well, but a large amount of moisture during the flowering period contributes to a rich harvest.
In the photo - potatoes.
What family does it belong to
Solanum tuberosum L. is a perennial herbaceous tuber plant. Potatoes (like peppers, eggplants, tomatoes) belong to the Solanaceae family. Another name for potatoes is tuberous nightshade.
Systematic group of potatoes:
- domain: Eukaryotes;
- kingdom: Plants;
- department: Angiosperms;
- class: Dicotyledonous;
- order: Solanaceae;
- family: Solanaceae;
- genus: Nightshade;
- kind: Potatoes.
Solanaceae numbers over 2300 plant species, among which are not only grasses and shrubs, but also trees. Solanaceae are combined according to a common feature - a spine-petal corolla, which is formed from five accrete petals. Fruits are capsules or berries.
Among the nightshades, there are many ornamental plants with a pleasant smell, such as fragrant tobacco and petunia, as well as many species that humans use for food: potatoes, tomato, eggplant, bitter and sweet pods pepper, melon pear, physalis.
Reference. Potatoes and tomatoes were brought to Europe as ornamental plants.
There is a hybrid of potatoes and tomatoes - tomato - a miracle plant with potato tubers and tomatoes on one bush. TomTato - the development of British scientists - allows you to get about 500 pieces of tomatoes from one bush cherry and several kilograms of white potato tubers.
She is still found in South America. It has tuberous bitter tubers the size of a walnut. The Peruvian Indians have found a way to make wild potatoes edible. After some time, potatoes became the main food of the peoples of Latin America. Each Peruvian family grew its own variety of potatoes, passing on the knowledge of the selection of an amazing plant by inheritance.
Having arrived in Europe more than 400 years ago, potatoes have long been considered a poisonous plant. The vegetable became widespread only in the 18th century, becoming a staple food for many peoples.
Reference. The first description of this outlandish plant was made by Cieza de Leon, a Spanish historian and conquistador: "... they call Papas, like truffles, which after boiling become as soft inside as boiled chestnuts; it has neither a shell nor a bone, only what truffles have, because it is formed underground, like them. "
Since then, breeders have been constantly working on the taste, yield and nutritional value of potatoes. Modern potato varieties differ greatly in yield and size from their wild ancestor, yielding up to 2 kg of tubers from one bush.
Characteristics of wild potatoes
Most varieties of wild potatoes have been cultivated unchanged since the 18th century, propagated by seeds to maintain the purity of the species. Wild potatoes are characterized by low yields, late ripening periods, and are grown in private farms. The price of wild potatoes is significantly higher due to the use of manual labor.
The appearance of the terrestrial bush, the color of the stems, leaves and flowers depends on the variety of wild potatoes. The root system is fibrous, with a small number of stolons and small tuberous tubers.
Varieties of wild vegetables
Recently, however, wild varieties of potatoes that have not been selected for two hundred years have become widespread. The unusual taste of wild potato tubers was appreciated by gourmets.
Wild potatoes anya
The Russian name is Wild White, Anna's Fingers. Potatoes with long, lumpy tubers about the size of an index finger, with a pinkish-beige skin and white waxy pulp. The taste is nutty.
Pink fir apple
Fir apple is a wild potato with long, very lumpy tubers with pink skin and creamy beige flesh. The taste is slightly nutty.
Belle de fontenay
French potato with small smooth tubers with yellow skin and yellow, dense, waxy pulp.
The Russian name is Wild Black. With elongated, strongly tuberous tubers with a dense skin of dark purple, almost black color and purple flesh. Has a nutty taste and a sweet chestnut smell.
When boiled, it does not change its shade, it becomes very soft, turning into a rich lilac puree. It has strong antioxidant properties, like all colored potatoes.
The oldest cultivar with elongated, very tuberous tubers, brown skin with small dark brown "freckles" and deep-set eyes. Dense, creamy white flesh. Taste with hints of roasted chestnuts, slightly sweet.
Who knows in what direction the history of mankind would have developed without potatoes. Potatoes are not only tasty and healthy food available all year round, but also a medicine and a fodder crop.