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The mashua (see below for other names) is a perennial plant grown in the Andes for its edible tuber, which is eaten as a root vegetable. It is a major food source there. The tuber is rather peppery in flavor when raw, but this quality disappears when cooked. It is related to garden nasturtiums, being of the Tropaeolum genus, not to be confused with the genus Nasturtium.

Alternative names

This plant is commonly called mashua in Peru and Ecuador, but other names include:




Mascho (Peru)

Anu (in Peru and Bolivia)


Cubio (in Colombia)

Tuberous Nasturtium

Growing mashua

The plant grows vigorously even in marginal soils and in the presence of weeds. It is also well-adapted to high-altitude subsistence agriculture, and gives high yields; 30 tonnes per hectare are yielded at a height of 3000 metres, but up to 70 tons per hectare have been produced under research conditions.

Its extraordinary resistance to insect, nematode, and bacterial pests is attributed to high levels of isothiocyanates. In Colombia, it is planted as a companion crop to repel pests in potato fields.

Mashua as a food

The tubers comprise as much as 75 percent of the mature plants by dry weight (40 percent is typical for cereals). Up to 75 percent of dry matter reaches the tubercle.

Popularization of mashua may be limited by its strong flavor, and its reputation as an anaphrodisiac (see below).

Medicinal properties

It has been recorded by the Spanish chronicler Cobo that mashua was fed to their armies by the Inca Emperors, "that they should forget their wives". Indeed, studies of male rats fed on mashua tubers have shown a 45% drop in testosterone levels.

Mashua has also been used to treat nephropathy, and as a diuretic.

See also


New World Crops



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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Mashua

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