Other names: Oriental Sweet Potato
General Information: The Japanese or Oriental Sweet Potato has a beautiful pink to purple skin and is white inside. It has a delicious sweet flavor. They are used to make liquor in Japan. They are attractive, colorful, and make a wonderful presentation. They can be grilled, steamed or baked.
Nutritional: Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of beta-carotene, and are also a good source of fiber and vitamin C.
History: The Japanese Sweet Potato is an herbaceous, mainly creeping perennial that is descended from the sweet potato, which is native to Central and South America, where it was domesticated at least five thousand years ago. The plant spread throughout the Americas, and an interesting controversy has arisen with regard to its reach throughout the world. The sweet potato was also found in pre-Columbian Polynesia. Exactly how they arrived in the Orient is a subject of fierce debate in scholastic circles. The sweet potato was one of the first plants to be introduced from the Americas to Europe during the voyages of Columbus; from there, Portuguese traders carried it to Africa, India and Asia. This is called the "batata line" of dispersal. Now the controversy: There is another line that is said to predate the others. Archaeological sites have produced stored sweet potato tubers in Pacific Islands that date back at least one thousand years - prior to European exploration. Some scholars claim that Peruvian voyagers carried them to the East, and others assert that Polynesian travelers transported the plants. To complicate matters, a third line of dispersal has been introduced, and one that is often neglected; Nature. The sweet potato is tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions, and there are slight differences in coloration and composition throughout the world, depending upon the local agricultural conditions. For example, the Japanese Sweet Potato has dark-pink skin and is sweeter than the American sweet potato, which is similar to the yam, but should not be confused with it as it belongs to another plant family entirely. Generally, the Japanese Sweet Potato prefers well-drained soil with a high organic content.