Sep. 5, 2021
sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas
Sweet potatoes originated somewhere in Central America or northwestern South America. Their spread around the world began very early. They were eaten, and began to be an item in indigenous commerce perhaps as long as 10,000 years ago. Their first overseas adventure was into Polynesia. They began traveling across the Pacific around 1200 CE. The most likely mode of travel was with Polynesians who visited the west coast of Colombia. We know this is possible because of DNA evidence of more intimate exchanges between the cultures. By the 1700s they had crossed the Pacific to Australia and Japan. The rest is well known. Now some of us even go so far as to eat them at Thanksgiving. Did you know the young shoots and foliage are also edible? I didn't until now. With us these vines have been reported wild in FL, HI, KS, LA, MS, NC, NY, PA, SC, TX, UT, and VA. Worth Co GA, 10/19/15.