SACoronavirus Resource and News Portal

Plant Information

Scientific Name: Manihot esculenta
Alternative Names: Manioc, Tapioca

Package FormatN/A

Manihot esculenta
Manihot esculenta


  • Perennial
  • Cassava is native to Central and South America.
  • It is a woody shrub with compound leaves, small green flowers and large, fleshy, starch-rich brown roots that can be chalk-white or yellowish inside. Cassava is a root vegetable of which the roots have a similar shape to sweet potatoes.
  • It is very hardy and tolerant of a wide range of soils.
  • Leaves for consumption can be produced throughout the year if the plants receive sufficient water.

Culinary Uses

  • It is essential to cook both cassava root and leaves – never eat it raw, as it contains dangerous levels of cyanide.
  • To dispel the poison the leaves must be boiled for at least 15 minutes.
  • It can be cooked like spinach, added to stews or dried in the sun for later use.
  • Fresh roots are peeled and used the same way as potatoes – they can be boiled, fried, baked and made into flour.
  • Slices may be added to soups, stews and meat dishes.
  • They may also be dried, ground and boiled to produce various starch foods like semolina or flat breads.
  • The refined starch from the tubers, known as tapioca pearls, is used in soups, puddings and dumplings.
  • Tapioca flour can be used as a source of gluten-free flour to make bread and other baked products that are suitable for people with intolerance to gluten.
  • The roots store well.

Parts Used

  • The maturing leaves are harvested when they reach full size.
  • The roots are are harvested when the leaves begin to yellow and fall.

Medicinal Uses. It is said that

  • Cassava leaves contain protein, iron and B vitamins and is a good source of protein.
  • The root is a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and small amounts of calcium and phosphorus.
  • Cassava is a source of resistant starch, which scientists suggest can boost a person's gut health by helping nurture beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Resistant starches remain relatively unchanged as they pass through the digestive tract

For Animals. It is said that

  • Cassava tubers and hay are used worldwide as animal feed.
  • The hay is harvested at a young growth stage (three to four months) when it reaches about 30 to 45 cm above ground.
  • It is then sun-dried for one to two days until its final dry matter content approaches 85 percent.
  • Cassava hay contains high protein (20–27 percent crude protein) and condensed tannins (1.5–4 percent CP).
  • It is valued as a good roughage source for ruminants such as cattle.
The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. This site merely recounts the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Mountain Herb Estate, and its representatives will not be held responsible for the improper use of any plants or documentation provided. By use of this site and the information contained herein you agree to hold harmless Mountain Herb Estate, its affiliates and staff

Back to Plant List