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Tropaeolaceae, Tropaeolum tuberosum, Mashua, Tuber Nasturtium – South America, Andes Region

August 26, 2011

Closely related to the common nasturtium, T. tuberosum is a perennial plant grown in the Andes Mountains of South America for its edible root. The plant is a creeper with fleshy stems and orange-red flowers similar to those of the Nasturtium.

The roots are white with purple spots, not dissimilar to the form of some potatoes. The roots are not eaten fresh but are dried and eaten like potatoes. Pickled tubers have been used in Europe to garnish hors d’oeuvres and cold meats. Leaves are added to salads for their spicy taste and attractive colors. Young seeds and unopened flowers are pickled with tarragon and used as a substitute for capers.

The Tuber Nasturtium is native to the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. It was cultivated centuries before European Colonization. Europeans brought the plant back home where it has since been propagated and selected for its ornamental traits. The tuber nasturtium is practically unknown outside of South America where it is still grown as a staple food in many high altitude areas where few other crops will grow

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2013 10:08:58 am

    How can I be certain that it will not become an invasive species in my area?

    • May 10, 2013 10:08:02 am

      You can’t be certain. But if, hypothetically, you were to decide to experiment with growing this plant, it would ultimately be up to you and your approach to cultivation / management to verify its growing habits and potential. Anytime anyone decides to introduce and grow a species outside of its native region that person should be monitoring the plant’s reaction to its new environs. Of course, this isn’t just about looking for the plants potential to naturalize and/or become “invasive”, its about close observation into all aspects of that plants growing habit and life cycle.

  2. May 12, 2013 10:08:37 pm

    Like anything, if you are responsible about it, it won’t become invasive. I own a dog…2 dogs… I am responsible about them, they are not invasive…I had 3 children…I was responsible with them and taught them “right from wrong”…they have grown up to be reasonably intelligent and able to stop themselves from mass murdering their neighbours… responsible tick 2. Don’t throw your prunings out into native vegetation, don’t allow the plant to produce seeds if the birds or other native animals are going to spread them and be sure to prune it back if it starts to expand exponentially…”responsibility” not all that big a word 😉


  1. Plants you aren’t growing, but should be… Tropaeolum tuberosum, Mashua | anthropogen

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