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Plectranthus esculentus (Livingstone potato)

Livingstone potato is a yellow-flowered member of the mint family, with elongated edible tubers.
Flowers of Livingstone potato

Plectranthus esculentus (Photo: Bart Wursten)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Plectranthus esculentus N.E.Br.

Common name: 

Livingstone potato (English), finger potato, dazo (French, from an Ubangi vernacular name), Rizga (Hausa).

Conservation status: 

Not threatened.

Habitat: 

Grassland, open Isoberlinia, Brachystegia and Uapaca woodland, often in rocky areas. Also found in cultivation.

Known hazards: 

None known.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Asteranae
Order: 
Lamiales
Family: 
Lamiaceae
Genus: Plectranthus

About this species

Despite the common names suggesting this species is a type of potato, Plectranthus esculentus is actually a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and is not in the same family (Solanaceae) as the potato we commonly eat. Other names found in older literature for this species are Coleus dazo, Coleus esculentus, and Plectranthus floribundus.

Livingstone potato is cultivated for food in parts of Africa. It is thought that cultivation began through selection of wild populations in the Upper Niger valley of the Hausaland (Nigeria) and in the Central African Republic.

Genus: 
Plectranthus

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