Leaf ulluco, or wild ulluco, is a subspecies of the domesticated ulluco: Ullucus tuberosus ssp. aborigineus. Leaf ulluco is a triploid, while domesticated ulluco is generally diploid. This makes the two incompatible for breeding purposes; in fact, triploid plants like leaf ulluco are generally unable to reproduce sexually at all. The tubers of leaf ulluco are smaller than those of the domesticated varieties, ranging from roughly the size of beans to Brazil nuts. Yields are also lower – perhaps a quarter to a third of that produced by the better varieties of domesticated ulluco. But, you don’t really grow leaf ulluco for its tubers…
The leaves of wild ulluco have a mild earthy flavor like the tubers and make a nice addition to salads. They can also be cooked and make a good substitute for spinach. The plant has long trailing vines, which ultimately produce a lot more leaf matter than the domesticated types. Since the tuber yields aren’t impressive, you aren’t losing out on tuber production by harvesting the leaves. In mild climates, wild ulluco will regrow from the tubers every year, giving you a perennial leaf crop.
For best results, grow leaf ulluco on mounds. Plant the tubers around the top of the mound and let the vines trail down. Raised beds also work well. The crop is difficult to manage on flat ground due to the long non-climbing vines.
Our leaf ulluco is a mix of varieties with different vine lengths, but otherwise very little difference.