The Highland Potato with Its Own Song

Solanum ajanhuiri is a native Andean potato, grown at the highest elevations suitable for cultivation (around 13,000 feet) in Bolivia and Peru, where it can survive due to its frost and drought resistance.  There is a Bolivian folk song for the planting of this potato, given here from Huaman (1980), after translation from Aymara to Spanish to English:


Flower of the potato (Solanum ajanhuiri) variety'Jancko Ajawiri'
Jancko Ajawiri potato flower

I am the young Ajawiri
Daughter of the great chief
I laugh at everything
For I have flocks of llamas
And stores of chuño
For I am a woman of courage


Are you that maiden?
Like the potato blossom
Always beautiful
In the wind and the sun

Women like a flower bud
Smile, smile
Violet flower, smile
And do not cry later
When the frost kisses you

Solanum ajanhuiri tubers


What frost! What hail!
I am the Ajawiri flower
I laugh at the snow
Pirouetting in the wind
I am the young Ajawiri


Dance, dance, maidens
Spin, spin, sisters
We’ll give you a draught
In a golden cup
We’ll give you a draught
In a silver cup
Then we’ll turn to the right and
Turn to the left
Spin, spin, sisters

Flower of the potato (Solanum ajanhuiri) variety Laram Ajawiri
Laram Ajawiri potato flower


Come away, come away walking
To the village of Ajawiri


Sisters, let us go
Beautiful potato flowers


Singing, singing
Come away dancing
Spinning, spinning
Come away dancing

6 thoughts on “The Highland Potato with Its Own Song

  1. Bea says:

    I just found 3 pods of potato berries on one of my plants. This brought me here!!! I’m so excited to think I have TPS that I can actually plant.
    Q. If the pods are on a red potato plant will you get red potatoes from the seeds? If I understand you correctly, the potato grown from TPS is a new potato or is it a new variety of potato??? Thanks for your help

    • bill says:

      The genetics involved are not completely straightforward. If you grow enough seeds, you will definitely get some red potatoes. It is also likely that you will get white potatoes and often more whites than reds. We would have to know the parents of your variety to have a better idea of how the different colors would segregate. Each plant grown from seed is a new variety. Good luck!

      I have a post that discusses the genetics of potato color.

  2. molly says:

    Is there such a thing as an Ur potato? I’ve checked Ochoa’s book, Hawkes and the CIP, but none give a clear answer. Do there seem to have been several that appeared at once? Can research tell from going backwards w DNA? Thanks for your help!

    • bill says:

      By “Ur,” you mean an original domesticated potato? If so, probably not. The earliest domesticated potatoes are thought to have emerged from the Solanum brevicaule complex of wild potatoes, becoming the earliest stenotomum type (high dormancy diploid) potatoes. This was probably an ongoing process that has continued to this day.

  3. molly says:

    Thanks. I meant an original wild potato, one the early Quechua would have first tasted the tiny bitter tubers of, and then begun to domesticate. And that most/all the andigena contain some DNA of.

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