Manioc – Manihot utillissima
Manioc is a perennial shrubby plant, 1 to 3 meters tall, with jointed stems and deep green, fingerlike leaves. It has large, fleshy rootstocks.
Habitat and Distribution:
Manioc is widespread in all tropical climates, particularly in moist areas. Although cultivated extensively, it maybe found in abandoned gardens and growing wild in many areas.
The rootstocks are full of starch and high in food value. Two kinds of manioc are known: bitter and sweet. Both are edible. The bitter type contains poisonous hydrocyanic acid. To prepare manioc, first grind the fresh manioc root into a pulp, then cook it for at least 1 hour to remove the bitter poison from the roots. Then flatten the pulp into cakes and bake as bread. Manioc cakes or flour will keep almost indefinitely if protected against insects and dampness. Wrap them in banana leaves for protection. CAUTION: For safety, always cook the roots of either type.