Vegetable Seed Production
Family: Convolvaceae

sweet potatos Common Name: Sweet Potato
Scientific Name: Ipomoea batatas
Family: Convolvaceae

Sweet Potato introduction & history

  • The sweet potato probably originated in tropical America in what is today Panama, Northern South America, and the West Indies
  • Sweet potatoes were widely cultivated by the Mayans and Incas long before the arrival of the Europeans in South and Central America
  • Sweet potatoes were introduced to Spain by European explorers abut 1600 to western Africa by Portuguese traders and later into India, the East Indies, China, and Japan
  • A major mystery is the arrival of the sweet potato in the islands of the South Pacific 300-400 years earlier. The sweet potato apparently reaching New Zealand around 1300 A.D.
  • The name "potato" is derived from the Mexican word "batata" used for the sweet potato
  • The sweet potato has become far more important in subtropical and tropical areas than has the Irish potato, because it thrives in hot, moist climate whereas the Irish potato requires a cool climate
  • The sweet potato has been cultivated in Virginia since 1648

Genetically sweet potato is a hexaploid (6N - 90) of unknown parentage. Therefore, it does not grow true-to-type from seed and is not propagated by seed. Commercial propagation is vegetative and seeds are used only for plant breeding..

The sweet potato is a perennial dicot grown as an annual in the US. This a warm season frost intolerant crop that requires a long growing season of 100 to 150 days without cold weather. The plant is a trailing vine with smooth, flat, cordate to lobed leaves borne on erect petioles.

Sweet Potato Seed Identification page