Mashua: Tetraploid Variability

Twelve sets of three tubers each of seedlings out of Blanca mashua. Each is a little bit different, with mostly white or light yellow skin and various shades of red or purple eyes.

The domesticated varieties of mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) are tetraploid, meaning that they have four copies of each chromosome.  This allows the plant to carry twice the genetic diversity of a diploid organism (like most animals and many plants).  Balanced against that, mashua is most likely an autoploid, meaning that it became tetraploid by doubling its […]

Mashua: Seed Maturity and Germination

In theory, mashua is easier to breed than many of the other Andean roots and tubers.  It has no incompatibility mechanisms, it self-pollinates easily, and most varieties flower abundantly and set lots of seed in a sufficiently long growing season.  The flowers are large and easy to emasculate in order to make crosses.  The only […]

New Variety Introductions for 2016

I’ve announced a lot of achievements that I was proud of in this blog, but this might be my favorite. These are the new varieties that we have produced in the past couple of years, all of which have been released under the terms of the Open Source Seed Initiative pledge. That picture represents thousands […]

Mashua: Subterranean Seedlings

Mashua seedlings continue to arrive at their own slow pace.  Every time I get to thinking that the flat of mashua seed is done for the year, another pops up.  Mashua seedlings are surprisingly shy.  There is a lot going on under the ground.  I grew a few seeds in a pot where I could […]

Know Your Andean Root Vegetables: Part 1

We have been very lucky to find an artist who can translate my crude scribbling into a beautiful finished product.  Here is a handy introduction to the major Andean root crops: Mashua, Oca, Potato, Ulluco, and Yacon.  There is also a two page flier with the same information attached below.     Click here for […]

Mashua and Ulluco: Rainy day seedlings

Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) is one of the few Andean root crops that is reportedly easy to grow from seed.  It is happy self- or cross-pollinating and produces lots of flowers which grow into clusters of 3 to 4 seeds.  The seeds are regarded as easy to germinate.  They come up sometimes as volunteers in mild […]

Mashua: How to hand pollinate

In the northern hemisphere, outside of the tropics, where day length exceeds about 13 hours, we’re just entering the part of the year when mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) flowers.  Some varieties are starting now, while others won’t begin until after the autumn equinox (September 23).  Most commonly, mashua self pollinates, because it begins to shed viable […]

Summer heat and Andean crops

This was a pretty normal year on the coast of Washington.  We had a cool winter, a cool spring, a cool summer, and so far, we’re having a cool fall.  We’re close enough to the ocean that the temperature of the Pacific just off shore is a much better predictor of our temperatures than anything […]

Nutrition facts for oca, ulluco, and mashua

I’ve had a few customers ask about the nutrition data for oca, which set me on a search.  I was surprised that it is not all that easy to come by, as it seems like a fairly popular crop in New Zealand, but I didn’t turn up much.  The main source that I found was […]