I picked up yacón a few years ago from my usual online nursery. It’s an easy-yet-unusual plant to grow.
It has many alternative names, such as:
- Yacon (Yacón)
- Peruvian Ground Apple
- Earth Apple
- Smallanthus Sonchifolius
I’ve asked a few people from Peru and Argentina (and surrounding areas) but nobody seems to find it familiar. The mystical Peruvian plant, perhaps?
What does it taste like?
I would describe it as a crunchy pear/apple texture, slightly sweet. Very juicy. Almost like a water chestnut! It can be eated pretty much any way - including raw - but I think I like roasting it the best. It still keeps much of it’s crunchy texture even after baking for 45+ minutes.
How it grows
This thing is seriously easy to grow in the Sydney climate. I’ve had it grow up to a height of 2m, reaching for every bit of sunshine it can find.
The purple rhizomes which grow underground are perfect for sprouting into a new plant. After Winter has finished and the plant has lost it’s leaves, I usually pull up all roots and harvest the nice big brown tubers. The purple rhizomes are then split and replanted for the next season. So it’s easy, eat one part and plant the other!
As you can imagine, this plant loves water, since that’s about all the tubers are made up of. I make sure to grow it in well-drained partially sandy soil and keep the moisture up.
Frosts: Hates frosts, but that’s OK because it’s ready for harvest in Winter anyway.
Water: Loves water
Sun: Loves sun - it’s basically the potato equivalent of a sunflower, only with tiny cute yellow flowers.