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Origin. Ahipa has never been recorded in the wild state. Although the present area where this species is found in cultivation is restricted to a limited number of Andean valleys, the existence of archeological evidence from geographical areas outside its present distribution indicates that this crop was cultivated widely in the Andes at least 2,000 years ago.

Description. This species is a nonclimbing, erect or semi-erect herb usually no more than 30–60 cm in height. Its trifoliate, pubescent leaves have asymmetrical and entire leaflets; they are wider than they are long.

The inflorescence is on short stalks (0.1–1.5 cm) with a few pale lavender or white blossoms. Its round to kidney-shaped seeds (0.8–1.0 cm) are normally dull black, but can be black-and-white or brown in color and grow in 8–11 cm long pods.

Each plant has a single swollen root, which tapers towards both ends. The roots may be 15 cm (or more) in length, and usually weigh 500–800 g. Normally elongated or irregular in shape, they can also be nearly spherical. The pale yellow or tan skin encloses a white pulp that is interwoven with a soft fiber.

Horticultural Varieties. None recorded.

Environmental Requirements

Daylength. Apparently neutral for both flowering and root formation.

Rainfall. Although the plants grow well in locations ranging from subtropical to tropical and dry to wet, for good yields they require a warm climate with moderate rainfall.

Altitude. Sea level to 3,000 m.

Low Temperature. They are sensitive to frost.

High Temperature. Unknown.

Soil Type. As with other root crops, the soil should be light and well drained so as not to restrict tuber growth or encourage fungal rot.

Related Species.Ahipa has several relatives that produce edible tubers. Its Mexican relative, the jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus), has already been mentioned.

Another relative, the “potato bean” (P. tuberosus), is native to

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