Smallanthus sonchifolius, syn.: Polymnia edulis, P. sonchifolia
yacon, ground apple, pomme de terre
Yacon is a species of perennial daisy traditionally grown in the northern and central Andes from Colombia to northern Argentina for its crisp, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots. The flavor has aromatic hints of herbs and other flavors which some compare to apples and celery. I find it to be unique unto itself and love to add it chopped raw to salads. They are also quite delicious stir fried. This is also the yacon plant of which yacon syrup sweetener is derived. The sweet roots are juiced and then the juice boiled to form a syrup.
The yacón, is a close relative of the sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke. The plant produces a perennial rhizome to which are attached the edible, succulent storage roots, the principal economic product of the plant. The rhizome develops just under the surface of the soil and continuously produces aerial shoots. Dry and/or cold seasons cause the aerial shoots to die back, but the plant resprouts from the rhizome under favorable conditions of temperature and moisture. The edible storage tubers are large and typically weigh from a few hundred grams to a kilogram or so.
While leaves are damaged by frost, the roots are not harmed unless they freeze solid. Yacón is a vigorous grower much like Jerusalem artichokes. The plants grow best with fertilization.
After the first few frosts, the tops will die and the roots are ready for digging. They can be kept in the refrigerator or buried away in moist sand until spring. While usable-sized tubers develop fairly early in the season, they taste much sweeter after they have matured and have been exposed to some frost or left in the fridge for a couple of weeks after digging.
Height at maturity: 5-6'
Spread at maturity: 3-4'
Hardiness Zones: 7-11
Container Size: 4"
Height at time of sale: 2-4"