Plant Spotting: Wild Potato

Plant Spotting: Wild Potato

By Liz Makings, http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet

GROWTH:

Perennial herb

ECOLOGY:

The Four Corner potato is a perennial herb, native to the southwest (hence its name). It grows in grasslands, juniper-piñon scrub deserts, oak thickets, and both coniferous and deciduous forests, between 5000 and 8500 feet in elevation. It grows between mid July and early October. It grows to between 10 and 30 cm tall, and has rhizomes bearing tubers between 5 and 20 mm in diameter. Also called the wild potato, its leaves alternate and can be 15 cm long. The flowers are yellow or white, and are around 3 cm in diameter. Solenum jamesii creates small, green, spherical berries. As with nearly all solenaceae (nightshade) members, every part of the mature plant is poisonous. Immature tuber roots are edible.

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S):

  • Solanum jamesii (Torr.)

COMMON NAME(S):

  • Four Corners potato

  • Wild potato

FAMILY:

Solanaceae

Collected by: E. O. Wooton; Paul Standley, http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet