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Potato
Solanum tuberosum L. (Solanaceae)
General description:
Potatoes are herbaceous perennial plants (grown as annuals in temperate regions) native to the Andes. Plants grow from 30 to 80 cm tall. Leaves are pinnately compound and somewhat hairy. Flowers are white to pink or purple. Fruits (berries) are green to purple, but seldom produced by many cultivars. Tubers have a wide variety of shapes and colors, including red, purple, pink and yellow. The flesh of tubers is often white, but some varieties have color throughout. Plants are propagated vegetatively, by replanting cut sections of the tubers.
History, uses and importance:
Potatoes were domesticated perhaps 8000 years ago in southern Peru. Potatoes thrived at high elevations where few other crops grew, and supported large populations in the Andes for thousands of years. More than 4,500 varieties of potatoes have been developed prehistorically and into modern times. Following the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1532, potatoes were introduced to Europe, and by the early 17th century, potatoes had been spread around the world. The potatoes first introduced into temperate regions were not very productive, as they were not adapted to the long summer days of higher latitudes. By the 1770s, potato varieties suited for temperate regions had been developed, and they quickly became staple crops in Europe. Still, only a small fraction of the genetic diversity of potatoes was present outside of South America. This lead to disastrous famines in Ireland and other parts of Europe in the 1840s when fields of genetically uniform plants succumbed to various diseases, especially the potato blight. Breeding efforts in the late 19th century incorporated genetic diversity from South American potato varieties into European varieties. Throughout the 20th century, potato production continued to increase in the developing world, with India and China becoming major producers.
By weight, potatoes are the fourth most important food crop in the world (after rice, wheat and corn). Potatoes are higher in protein and vitamins than the major grain crops, and are one of the most productive (by weight per unit area) of all crops. Two thirds of global production is eaten directly by humans, with the remainder fed to animals, or used to produce starch and alcoholic beverages (especially vodka). In 2014, potatoes were grown on 19.1 million hectares globally, and production totaled 382 million metric tons.
General References:
International Potato Center
FAO International Year of the Potato (2008)
USDA Economic Research Service
Hawkes, J.G. 1990 The Potato: Evolution, Biodiversity, and Genetic Resources. London: Pinter Publishers:Belhaven Press. (book)
Comprehensive museum links:
Artefacts Canada, Potato
Artefacts Canada, Vodka
Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Annotated Checklist of Cultivated Plants of Hawai’i, Solanum tuberosum
Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Hawaiian Native and Naturalized Vascular Plants Checklist, Solanaceae A-163, B-11,
Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Taxonomic Search, Solanum tuberosum
The British Museum, Potato
The British Museum, Vodka
The Brooklyn Museum, Potato
The Chicago Field Museum, Botany Department, Search Solanum tuberosum
The Chicago Field Museum, Neotropical Herbarium Specimens, Solanum tuberosum
The Chicago Field Museum, Economic Botany, Search Solanum tuberosum
The Chicago Field Museum, Botany Detailed Search, Search Solanum tuberosum
The Chicago Field Museum, Anthropology Collections, Search Potato
The Chicago Field Museum, vTypes Collection Database, Search Solanum tuberosum
HELSINGIN YLIOPISTOMUSEO, Peruna/Potato
HELSINGIN YLIOPISTOMUSEO, Potato, All Fields
HELSINGIN YLIOPISTOMUSEO, Potato Masher
HELSINGIN YLIOPISTOMUSEO, Vodka, All Fields
HELSINGIN YLIOPISTOMUSEO, Potato Starch
HELSINGIN YLIOPISTOMUSEO, perunakoukku/potato hook
HELSINGIN YLIOPISTOMUSEO, perunakakku/potato cake
Historical Presidential Palace of the Republic of Lithuania in Kaunas, Agriculture
Rijksmuseum, Rijksstudio, Potato
The Lithuanian National Museum/Lietuvos Nacionalinis Mujiejus, Potato
Victoria and Albert Museum, Potato
Natural history museum links:
The Food Museum, (“Food History: Kitchen Gizmos), potato masher/mixer
Idaho Potato Museum
National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan, Natural History Collection Database, Solanum tuberosum
National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan, Vascular Plants (Specimens), Solanum tuberosum
Royal Horticultural Society, Solanum tuberosum
Natural History Museum, London, Botany Collection, Solanum tuberosum
Natural History Museum, London, Library and Archives, Solanum tuberosum
Natural History Museum, London, Library and Archives, Potato
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Anthropology Department Collections, Type “potato” into “Keyword Search”
UK Science Museum, Potato
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Solanum tuberosum
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, frozen potato
History museum links:
The Autry Museum of the American West, Potato
Glendora Historical Society (and Museum), Potato
Glendora Historical Society (and Museum), Potato starch
Glendora Historical Society (and Museum), French fries
Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS), Potato
Minnesota Historical Society, Potato
Missouri History Museum/Missouri Historical Society, Potato
The National Museum of American History, Potato
The National Museum of American History, Potato mashers
The National Museum of American History, Potato Starch in Old Photos
Wisconsin Historical Museum, Search Potato
Wisconsin Historical Museum, Online Exhibit About the Potato Chip: “Chip Chat: Red Dot and the Potato Chip”
Art museum links:
British Council: Visual Arts, Potato
The Broad, Los Angeles, Potato
FIGGE Art Museum, Potato
Goldstein Museum of Design, Potato
The Hammer, Los Angeles, Potato
Images D’art Database, Potato
M.K. Ciurlionis National Museum of Art (Lithuania), Potato
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Potato
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Potato
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Potato
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Potato
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Potato Masher
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Vodka
Portland Art Museum, Potato
Portland Museum of Art, Potato, Advanced Search link
Tate, UK, Potato
UK National Portrait Gallery, Potato
Anthropology museum links:
American Swedish Institute, Potato
National Museum of the American Indian, Potato Photo
National Museum of the American Indian, Potato Basket
National Museum of the American Indian, Potato
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, UK, Potato Photos
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, UK, Potato Objects
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, potato
The Somali Museum of Minnesota, Scroll through pictures for ? Yaambo? Hoe
The Spurlock Museum of World Cultures at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Ensuba ?Potato Masher? Money
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: Preu?ischer Kulturbesitz: Ethnologisches Museum, Search Kartoffel (Potato) and Wodka (Vodka)
UBC Museum of Anthropology, Potato
Library links:
Biodiversity Heritage Libary
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Transportation Research Library & Archives, Search Potato
Missouri Botanical Garden Biocultural Collections, Search Solanum Tuberosum
Missouri Botanical Garden Peter H. Raven Library, Potato
Missouri Botanical Garden Peter H. Raven Library, Solanum tuberosum
National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library, Potato
New Orleans Public Library (Partners with NATFAB; National Food and Beverage Foundation), Potato
Simon Fraser University Library, Potato, Collections
Simon Fraser University Library, Potato, Photo
Skala Bartizal Library:(National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library), Search Potato
UC San Diego (Library), Potato
UC San Diego (Library), Potato Starch
Floristic and taxonomic links:
Flora of China
GRIN Taxonomy
IPNI
Kew electronic Plant Information Centre
Plants of the World Online
Solanaceae Source
USDA Plants
Herbarium links:
GBIF
JSTOR
Living collections and germplasm links:
CIP Genebank
MOBOT Living Collections
United States Potato Genebank
DNA and genetics links:
NCBI
SpudDB Potato Genomics Resource
UniProt
Specialized database links:
Dr. Duke's Phytochemical database
Encyclopedia of Life
EPPO database (plant pathogens)
iNaturalist
Invasive Species Compendium
MOBOT Biocultural Collections
Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products
 
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