Manihot esculenta Crantz

Etymology Genus From Manioc, the Brazilian name for the plant
Species Edible
Family Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms -
Common Names Tapioca, Cassava, Manioc
Status Exotic: Naturalised
Form Shrub
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.

Interesting Facts:

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. Accessed on 30-Dec-2018.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2018-12-31 / Modified: 2019-08-27