|Etymology||Genus||From Manioc, the Brazilian name for the plant|
|Common Names||Tapioca, Cassava, Manioc|
|Native Distribution||South America|
Manihot esculenta is a common shrub found in sunny areas usually along forest edges, and also frequently cultivated for the edible tubers. It has palmately compound leaves, and differs from a close relative Manihot carthagenensis subspecies glaziovii with the latter having larger leaves and broader tips at the lobes.
The starch-filled root storage organ, or tuber, of the Tapioca is edible, but needs to be properly treated to remove the toxic hydrogen cyanide (HCN). The bitter variety contains up to x8 more of HCN, and extensive treatment required through peeling and grating of the roots, soaking in water; whereas peeling and cooking is suffice for the sweeter variety (Kwok, 2018). The "pearls" in bubble tea also originate from this species.
A clump of Tapioca at a forest edge along Yishun Ave 1 (2018).
Palmately lobed leaves.
Stem and small stipules.
Kwok J (2018) Cyanide Poisoning and Cassava. Centre for Food Safety, The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. https://www.cfs.gov.hk. Accessed on 30-Dec-2018.