Botanical Name Polymnia sonchifolia Poeppig & Endlicher
Family Compositae (sunflower family)
Synonym Polymnia edulis Weddell, Smallanthus sonchifolia 10
Quechua: yacón, llakuma
Aymara: aricoma, aricona
Spanish: yacón, jacón, llacón, llamón, arboloco, puhe, jícama (not the common jicama of commerce, see page 39), jíquima, jíkima, jiquimílla
English: yacon, yacon strawberry, jíquima
French: poir de terre Cochet
Origin. Yacon grows wild in Colombia, Ecuador, and probably Peru, and it is commonly naturalized at medium altitudes in South America. It has been found in pre-Incan tombs in Peru, indicating a wide dispersal in early times.
Description. Yacon is a handsome, compact, herbaceous plant with dark-green celerylike leaves. The aerial stems can reach 2 m in height, and are hairy with purple markings. Small, daisylike yellow or orange flowers are packed close together at the top of the plants and on additional stems arising from the lower leaf axils.
Yacon tubers are irregularly spindle-shaped to round (somewhat resembling those of the garden dahlia) and can vary considerably in shape, size, and sweetness. Fused to the swollen stem (4–5 or even 20 in a bunch), they splay out like fat spokes from a hub.11 On the outside, they are tan to purplish brown, but inside they are white, yellow, purple, orange, or yellow, sometimes with magenta dots. A tuber usually weighs 200–500 g, but can reach 2 kg.