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Toxic parts

All green parts of the plant, including the green parts of tubers, are poisonous, containing an alkaloid called 'solanine'.[1][2][3]. These solanines are also produced in potato shoots when they sprout, even if the potato is in the dark and the shoots are not green[4].

Edible uses


Root - raw or cooked. Potatoes are a very versatile food that can be used in a wide variety of ways. Having a mild flavour, and readily accepting the flavour of other foods, they can be eaten on a regular basis without becoming boring. Whilst occasionally eaten raw, they are most commonly cooked and can boiled, baked, fried, added to soups, stews etc[5]. The cooked potato can also be dried and made into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc, or be added to cereal flours when making bread, biscuits etc[6]. The potato is a very rich source of starch, but does not contain high quantities of other nutrients. When exposed to light, the skin turns green and contains the toxin solanine. Whilst eating a small quantity of green potato is unlikely to cause harm, it is probably wisest to remove any green part of the tuber before eating it. The fresh petals of white-flowered varieties contain 0.2% rutin[7].

Unknown part

Material uses

The tubers are a source of starch that is used in sizing cotton and to make industrial alcohol etc[8][9]. It also has many other uses in industry[10].

Ripe potato juice is an excellent cleaner of silks, cottons and woollens[6]. The water in which potatoes have been boiled can be used to clean silver and to restore a shine to furniture[1]. Emollient and cleansing face masks are made from potatoes, these are used to treat hard, greasy and wrinkled skins[1].

The potato is a good source of biomass. When boiled with weak sulphuric acid, potato starch is changed into glucose and this can then be fermented into alcohol[6].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Whilst mainly used as a staple food, potatoes do also have a number of medicinal virtues. A juice made from the tubers, when taken in moderation, can be helpful in the treatment of peptic ulcers, bringing relief from pain and acidity[11]. Excessive doses of potato juice can be toxic - do not drink the juice of more than one large potato per day[11]. A poultice has been made from boiling potatoes in water[6]. This is applied as hot as can be borne to rheumatic joints, swellings, skin rashes, haemorrhoids etc[6][11]. Peeled but uncooked potatoes have been pounded in a mortar and then applied cold as a soothing plaster to burns and scalds[6]. Potato skins are used in India to treat swollen gums and to heal burns[11].

The tubers contain very small quantities of atropine alkaloids. One property of these alkaloids is the reduction of digestive secretions, including acids produced in the stomach[11]. The root and leaf diffusates of growing potato plants possess cardiotonic activity[12]. Dried ethanol extracts of above-ground parts of the plant show marked hypotensive and myotropic action and a spasmolytic and soothing effect on intestinal musculature[12]. Ethanol extracts of the leaves have antifungal properties, active against Phytophthora infestans[12]. The leaves, seeds, and tuber extracts show antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria[12].

The leaves are antispasmodic[1][13].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


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Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions after the last expected frosts. If grown on fast it is possible to get a reasonable crop in the first year though the normal way of growing potatoes is from tubers. Seed from named varieties will not breed true to type but will usually give a good crop. Division of tubers. Harvest in the autumn, store in a cool frost free place overwinter. Chit the potatoes to encourage the growth of sprouts in the new year and plant out in spring.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Solanum tuberosum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in most soils, preferably in a sunny position[14]. It performs well on a wide variety of soils, sandy loams, silt loams, loams, and peats[12]. Dislikes wet or heavy clay soils[15][16]. Prefers a slightly acid soil, the tubers are subject to scab on limy soils or those deficient in humus. Yields are best from plants grown in rich soils with plenty of organic matter. The plant is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 9 to 410cm, an annual temperature in the range of 3.6 to 27.8°C and a pH of 4.2 to 8.2[12].

Potatoes are a cool weather crop, the optimal temperature for growth being 15 - 20°C for most cvs. Growth of the tubers is best at soil temperature of 17 - 20°C, with usually no tubers formed above 32°C. The top-growth of this species is not frost hardy, though the tubers will tolerate a few degrees of frost if left in the ground[17]. Potatoes are very widely grown throughout the world for their edible tubers, there are many named varieties[18]. The potato is one of the main staple foods, it is very high yielding (50 tonnes or more per hectare have been achieved in some European countries, though at the other extreme yields of little more than 2 tonnes have been achieved in parts of Africa), stores well and can be available all year round. The potato probably arose through cultivation from several wild species that can still be found growing in S. America. Many of these wild species can be used in breeding programmes for improved disease resistance etc. Does well when grown after a crop of rye, Secale cereale[19][20]. Grows well with legumes, sweet corn, cabbage, marigolds, horse radish, flax, dead nettles, sainfoin and nasturtiums[19][20]. Grows badly with tomatoes, sunflowers, members of the cucumber family and raspberries[19][20].

Potatoes should not be stored with apples because the ethylene gas released by the apples will cause the potatoes to go soft and develop a sour taste[13].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Solanum tuberosum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Solanum tuberosum.




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Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Solanum tuberosum
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    1 x meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    "image:Solanum tuberosum.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Solanum tuberosum.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

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    1. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Altmann. H. Poisonous Plants and Animals. Chatto and Windus ISBN 0-7011-2526-8 (1980-00-00)
    3. ? Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
    4. ? Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Brouk. B. Plants Consumed by Man. Academic Press ISBN 0-12-136450-x (1975-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    11. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    12. ? Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops - (1983-00-00)
    13. ? Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting. Cassell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-304-34324-2 (1993-00-00)
    14. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    15. ? Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-050-0 (1977-00-00)
    16. ? Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant. Blackie and Son. (1878-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    18. ? Bianchini. F., Corbetta. F. and Pistoia. M. Fruits of the Earth. ()
    19. ? Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
    20. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)

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