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Pachyrhizus erosus
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Jicama CDC.jpg
Plant Info
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Fabales
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Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
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Genus: Pachyrhizus
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Species: P. erosus
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Binomial name
Pachyrhizus erosus
(L.) Urb.
Trinomial name
Type Species

The jícama (pronounced "hee-kuh-muh"; from Spanish, derived from Nahuatl xicamatl), also known as the Mexican Potato or Mexican Turnip, is the name of a vine native to Mexico and Central America, although the name is most commonly used to refer only to the edible tuberous root of the plant. The jicama is one species in a genus (Pachyrhizus) which is commonly referred to as yam beans, although the name "yam bean" is sometimes used as another name for the jicama specifically. The other major species of yam beans are indigenous to other parts of the Americas.

The jicama vine can reach a height of 4-5 metres given suitable support. Its root can attain lengths of up to 2m and weigh up to 20 kilograms. The root's exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles that of a raw potato or pear. The flavour is sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples. It is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon or lime juice and powdered chili. It is also cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes. Cultivation of the jícama has recently spread from the Americas to China and Southeast Asia where notable uses of raw jícama include popiah and salads such as yusheng and rojak.

In contrast to the root, the remainder of the jícama plant is very poisonous; the seeds contain the toxin rotenone, which is used to poison insects and fish.

The jícama is high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fibre. It is composed of 86-90% water; it contains only trace amounts of protein and lipids. Its sweet flavour comes from the oligofructose inulin (also called fructo-oligosaccharide).

Jícama should be stored dry, between 12°C and 16°C (53°F and 60°F); colder temperatures will damage the root. A fresh root stored at an appropriate temperature will keep for a month or two.


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