1. Family: Solanaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Solanum L.
      1. Solanum tuberosum L.

        Potato is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which also includes tomato ( Solanum lycopersicum), aubergine or eggplant ( S. melongena), chilli pepper ( Capsicum annuum) and petunias ( Petunia species).

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Potato is widely cultivated for its edible tubers, which are used to produce a variety of products including chips, crisps and vodka.

    Potato is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which also includes tomato ( Solanum lycopersicum), aubergine or eggplant ( S. melongena), chilli pepper ( Capsicum annuum) and petunias ( Petunia species).

    Considered to be the fourth most important food crop (after wheat, maize and rice), potato is cultivated in temperate and subtropical regions across the world.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Solanum tuberosum is thought to have originated in the Andes of South America. It was probably first domesticated in the Lake Titicaca region of Peru and Bolivia between 10,000 and 7,000 years ago.

    It is widespread in cultivation, with major producers including China, Russia, Poland, the USA, Ukraine, Germany and India.

    Description

    Overview:An erect, perennial, aromatic herb up to 1 m tall. Sparsely hairy, with tuber-bearing underground stolons (vegetative shoots). Stems erect, succulent, winged, branching.

    Leaves: Divided into 3–5 pairs of leaflets.

    Flowers:White to pink, purple or blue, about 2.5 cm in diameter with yellow anthers. Borne in a many-flowered, axillary inflorescence. Each flower is borne on a flower stalk (pedicel) 2–3 cm long.

    Fruits: A succulent (but inedible), spherical, yellow-green to purple berry, up to 4 cm in diameter.

    Thousands of cultivars are available, which vary in characters such as tuber size, shape and skin colour.

    Uses

    Potatoes are a major staple and have a prominent place in many national cuisines. They are an almost complete foodstuff, providing all the essential nutrients, with the exception of calcium and vitamins A and D (which can be obtained by consuming them with milk).

    Potatoes are a good source of carbohydrate and vitamin C and provide about 25% of the vitamin C in the European diet.

    The diverse and adaptable tubers are boiled, roasted, baked, fried and steamed as a vegetable. Potatoes are a key ingredient in many soups, stews, pies and other oven-baked dishes.

    They are processed into a diverse range of foodstuffs including chips (French fries), crisps (chips), potato bread (such as boxty), potato flour and dried potato. They are a common source of starch, glucose and dextrin.

    Potatoes have long been frozen, soaked and dried to form a product known as chuño, which has played an important role in the diet of the population of the highland and lowland Andes of South America.

    Potatoes are used to produce alcoholic beverages including vodka and schnapps. They are also used as animal feed.

    All green parts of the plant, including tubers, that have been exposed to light contain poisonous glycoalkaloids (solanines), so tubers with green patches should not be eaten. Overconsumption of solanine by pregnant women is alleged to promote spina bifida in babies.

    This species at Kew

    Dried and alcohol-preserved specimens of Solanum tuberosum are held in Kew’s Herbarium where they are available to researchers by appointment. Details of some of these specimens can be seen online in Kew’s Herbarium Catalogue.

    Models of various potatoes, samples of potato starch, dextrin, tubers, potato flour, fruits, rice paper made with potato flour, and non-perishable food made from tubers are held in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection in the Sir Joseph Banks Building, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

    Distribution
    Bolivia, Peru
    Ecology
    Montane (highlands).
    Conservation
    Not considered to be threatened; widespread in cultivation.
    Hazards

    Potatoes contain toxic compounds including solanine, although levels of this are low in commercial varieties and poisoning is rare.

    [KSP]
    Use
    Food and drink, fodder.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Bolivia, Peru

    Introduced Into:

    Illinois

    Common Names

    English
    Potato

    Solanum tuberosum L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Jan 1, 2010 Yabar, L.A. [44] K000658002 lectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Yabar, L.A. [25] K000658003 lectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Yabar, L.A, [27] K000658004 syntype
    Jan 1, 2010 Yabar, L.A. [44] K000658005 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Balls, E.K. [6988] K000658006 syntype
    Jan 1, 2010 Balls, E.K. [6941] K000658007 lectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Soukup [s.n.] K000658009 lectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Balls, E.K. [6955] K000658010 syntype
    Jan 1, 2010 Balls, E.K. [s.n.] K000658011 syntype
    Jan 1, 2010 s.coll. [979] K000658012 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Ascásabi, L. [7243] K000658013 lectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Ascásabi, L. [7243] K000658014 isolectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Ascásabi, L. [7243] K000658015 isolectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Alston, A.H.G. [0546] K000658017 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Alston, A.H.G. [0546] K000658018 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Balls, E.K. [6510] K000658019 lectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Balls, E.K. [s.n.] K000658020 neotype
    Jan 1, 2010 s.coll. [s.n.] K000658021 lectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [1654] K000658022 isotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [598], Russian Federation K000658023 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Hawkes, J.G. [1009a] K000658024 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [1438] K000658026 neotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [1170 or 1284] K000658027 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Hawkes, J.G. [1227 or 1253] K000658028 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Hawkes, J.G. [1162 or 1175] K000658029 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Hawkes, J.G. [1328] K000658030 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Hawkes, J.G. [1328] K000658031 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Hawkes, J.G. [1260] K000658032 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Hawkes, J.G. [1260] K000658033 Unknown type material
    Jan 1, 2010 Vallejos, P.S. [s.n.] K000658041 neotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Hawkes, J.G. [s.n.] K000658042 isoneotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [598] K000658096 isotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [598] K000658097 isotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [598] K000658098 isotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [598] K000658099 isotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Alston, A.H.G. [0546] K000658174 isolectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [1001] K000658176 isolectotype
    Jan 1, 2010 Juzepczuk, S.V. [1010] K000658177 syntype
    Jan 1, 1961 Alston, A.H.G. [0546] K000658016 lectotype
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170441
    Willmott, E.A. [s.n.], Côte d'Ivoire K001170442
    Herb Gay, J. [s.n.] K001170443
    Pallas [s.n.] K001170444
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170503
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170504
    Baker [s.n.] K001170505
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170506
    Henderson, G. [s.n.] K001170507
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170508
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170509
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170510
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170511
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170512
    Last, G.V.C. [517/10], United Kingdom K001170513
    Henry, A. [9476], China K001152509
    Licent, E. [6820], China K001152510
    Licent, E. [6821], China K001152511
    Henry [845], China K001152512
    Anderson, J. [s.n.], China K001152513
    Maximowicz [s.n.], Japan K001152514
    Plank, J.E. v.d. [s.n.] K001171570
    Meikle, R.D. 28984.000
    ulloa, C. [1091], Ecuador K001171648
    3458.000
    Bangerter, E.B. [5550], New Zealand K001155314
    Mc Kee [20681], New Caledonia K001155429
    s.coll [20681], New Caledonia K001155430
    s.coll [s.n.], Sweden K000440567
    s.coll [40] K000440568
    Pawek, J. [13337], Malawi K001158862
    Pawek, J. [12286], Malawi K001158863
    40820.000
    Krapovickas, A. [C69-1454/21], Argentina K000005648
    Hjerting, J.P. [6213], Argentina K000005651
    Muniez-Rothkugel, A. [225], Argentina K000005683
    s.coll [s.n.] K000005684
    Correll, D.S. [C20], Chile K000005685
    Greene, S.W. [3176], South Georgia & the South Sandwich Is. K000005686
    s.coll [s.n.] K000005687
    Cope, T.A. [RBG 586], Great Britain K000914631
    Walton, H.J. [s.n.] K001153211
    Griffith [s.n.] K001153212
    Matthew, K.M. [46584], India K001153213
    Hb. Royle [s.n.], India K001153214
    Cascante, A. [754], Costa Rica K001160905
    s.coll [s.n.], India K001153215
    Drummond, J.R. [25866], India K001153216
    Herb Falconer [s.n.] K001153217
    Herb Rottlerianum [s.n.], India K001153218
    Duthie, J.F. [s.n.] K001153219
    Duthie, J.F. [s.n.], Maldives K001153220
    Nafday, K.U.R. [167] K001153221
    Ujor, E. [FHI30070], Nigeria K001170399
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170400
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170401
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170402
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170403
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170404
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170405
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170406
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170407
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170408
    Diem, J. [1650], Denmark K001170409
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170410
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170411
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170412
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170413
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170414
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170415
    s.coll [s.n.] K001170416
    Mwangangi, O. [1956], Kenya K001170417
    Polhill, R. [EA12425], Kenya K001170418
    s.coll [s.n.], Peru K001166315
    Polhill, R. [12425], Kenya K001170419
    Dawe, M.T. [346], Colombia K001166316
    Baher, J.G. [s.n.] K001170420
    Stordy, R.J. [s.n.], Peru K001166317
    Baher, J.G. [s.n.] K001170421
    s.coll [s.n.] K001166319
    Baher, J.G. [s.n.] K001170422
    McLean [s.n.], Peru K001166374
    Baher, J.G. [s.n.] K001170423
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001166375
    Baher, J.G. [s.n.] K001170424
    s.coll [H1936-13], Colombia K001166376
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170425
    McLean [s.n.], Peru K001166377
    Lowne, B.T. [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170426
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170427
    Sutton [1910], United Kingdom K001170428
    s.coll [115], Austria K001170429
    Herb Brotero [s.n.], Portugal K001170430
    Simpson, N.D. [4960], Egypt K001170431
    Simpson, N.D. [4960], Egypt K001170432
    Ekman, E.L. [H10019], Haiti K001170433
    Matthew, K.M. [RHT46584], India K001170434
    s.coll [1171/3359] K001170435 lectotype
    Jenan [890], Iraq K001170436
    Omar, S. [981], Iraq K001170437
    Plank, G.L. van der [BP174] K001170438
    s.coll [s.n.], Germany K001170439
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170440

    First published in Sp. Pl. 1: 185 (1753)

    Literature

    • [1] Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014) Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide , ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
    • [2] Edmonds, J. E., Vorontsova, M. S. & Knapp, S. (2012) Solanaceae. In: Flora of Tropical East Africa, ed. H. Beentje, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [3] PBI Solanum Project (2010). Solanaceae Source.
    • [4] Vaughan, J. G. & Geissler, C. A. (2009). The New Oxford Book of Food Plants. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
    • [5] Mabberley, D. J. (2008). Mabberley’s Plant-book: a Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classification and Uses. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
    • [6] Kiple, K. F. & Ornelas, K. C. (eds) (2000). The Cambridge World History of Food, Volume 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
    • [7] Huxley, A., Griffiths, M. & Levy, M. (eds) (1999). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. Volume 4 (R to Z). Macmillan Reference, London.
    • [8] (1753)

    Sources

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [A] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
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    [C]

    Kew Library Art and Archives
    [D] Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [E] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [F] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0