Plant Tissue Autofluorescence Gallery

Potato Tuber

Potato Tuber

Today potatoes are commonly eaten mashed, fried, boiled, baked, and most any other way imaginable, but when Europeans first came into contact with the potato plant (Solanum tuberosum) they were very skeptical of it. A native of South America, the potato had been cultivated for well over a thousand years by the Incas when Spaniards arrived on the continent in the mid-sixteenth century and returned to Europe with specimens of the plant. Though grown in this new home as a curiosity, Europeans quickly recognized the plantís similarities to the poisonous nightshades and were at first uninterested in consuming any of its parts. Eventually, however, it was discovered that the potato tuber, an enlarged end of one of the plantís undergrounds stems, was both edible and nutritious, and by the dawn of the eighteenth century the potato tuber had become a staple of the Irish diet, though its use as a vegetable was much slower to catch on in France and many other countries.

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