The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet tasting tuberous roots are an important root vegetable (Purseglove, 1991; Woolfe, 1992). The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of Convolvulaceae, I. batatas is the only crop plant of major importance – some others are used locally, but many are actually poisonous.
Food features:The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum). The softer, orange variety is often called a yam in parts of North America, a practice intended to differentiate it from the firmer, white variety. The sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the other vegetable called a yam, which is native to Africa and Asia and belongs to the monocot family Dioscoreaceae.
Place of origin:Sweet potatoes are native to the tropical parts of South America, and were domesticated there at least 5000 years ago.
Nutrition:Besides simple starches, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene (a vitamin A equivalent nutrient), vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Pink and yellow varieties are high in carotene, the precursor of vitamin A.