Allionia expansa (Ruiz & Pav.) Kuntze
Calyxhymenia expansa Ruiz & Pav.
Oxybaphus expansus (Ruiz & Pav.) Vahl
Common Name: Mauka
Photograph by: Not known
Photograph by: Not known
Mauka is a low, compact, herbaceous, perennial plant growing up to 2.5 metre tall[
This species is occasionally cultivated for its edible root in the Andes, where there are some named varieties[
]. Many factors such as the plant's daylength requirement, are unknown but the plant seems to have potential as a food crop from the higher tropics to the temperate areas of the world[
S. America - Bolivia, Peru.
Open areas such as hillsides and canyon slopes, usually in loose, well-drained soils[
A plant of higher elevations in the drier tropics where it is usually found at 2,300 - 3,500 metres[
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 12 - 20°c, but can tolerate 5 - 25°c[
]. The plant might be intolerant of frost[
]. The top growth is certainly sensitive to frost, being cut back at temperatures below zero, but the root seems to be much hardier[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 800mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,000mm[
Prefers a fertile, loose alluvial soil[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5.5 - 7.5[
The plant is said to grow well in cold harsh environments with strong winds[
The plant is perennial but is usually cultivated as an annual[
]. In good growing conditions the production cycle generally lasts about 7 - 9 months but it can be considerably longer[
]. In the harsher environments where the plant grows it can take up to 2 years for the crop to mature, though it is usually harvested after a year. Yields of 50 tonnes per hectare after 2 years are possible[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
Root - cooked, They are usually dried in the sun then boiled and eaten as a vegetable or added to soups and stews[
]. The roots can be used as a sweet food - they are first buried for approximately one week in pits dug in the soil, where layers of barley straw and the roots are alternated so as to concentrate the sugars[
]. The root contains about 7% protein, a good quantity for a root crop[
] and up to 87% carbohydrate on a dry weight basis[
]. Roots can be the size of a man's forearm[
]. Some forms, especially those from Bolivia, contain an astringent substance that can burn the lips and mouth. When exposed to the sun these roots become sweet and are pleasant to eat[
]. Forms grown in Ecuador are not astringent[
]. Roots can be used in sweet or savoury dishes[
The cooking water makes an especially flavourful drink[
Leaves - raw. Added to salads[
]. The leaves contain about 17% protein[
] (this is probably based on the dry weight[
Seed remains viable for several years[
]. Sow the seed in a lightly shaded position in trays and, when they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out when large enough to handle.
Root division. Dig up the roots when the plant becomes dormant then divide them and replant.
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