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Yacon (aka Bolivian Sunroot – Polymnia sonchifolia) is a distant relative of the dahlia and grows to about six feet. It is closely related to the native Smallanthus Polymnia (formerly Polymnia uvedalia), which is a large, attractive herb with yellow flowers, and is usually found in tree-fall gaps in the moist hammocks of North Florida.

Soil: Best growth occurs with lots of compost or in naturally organic soils. It will survive and multiply in dry sandy soil but will not produce well.
Water: likes a lot of water
Sun: It is best grown in partial shade and does well on the south side of tall sweet gum or pine trees which give it some mid-day shade. Morning sun is beneficial.
Cold: plant goes dormant in the winter, and may lose new growth to freezes in the spring, but that will be quickly replaced.
Pruning: frozen parts can be removed in the spring for aesthetics.
Propagation: The plant needs about a year to establish itself before it starts producing its delicious dahlia-like storage roots although some small roots may develop the first year. In the fall of the first year it will die back and go dormant. At this time you may divide the crown into two or more new plants. Divide it into just two plants for the biggest yield the next year or into many plants to increase your planting stock and postpone high yields for a later year.
Pests: Something eats holes in the roots. We don’t know what they are or how to treat them. Voles could be a problem too.

Harvesting, storage, and preparation: When the crown is divided you may harvest any of the long smooth storage roots for eating. If you don’t wish to divide or transplant the crown you can dig under it to harvest the roots if it is planted in soft soil. The long roots beak off quite easily so dig carefully. The flavor is lightly sweet and the texture is reminiscent of jicama. The tubers can be baked like a potato, or cut up for stir frying or salads. We favor eating it raw and sliced as a healthy low calorie snack or mixed with fruit salads instead of apple for that nice crunchy texture. The long storage roots keep very well either in the ground or the refrigerator. However the longer they stay in the ground the more likely soil critters will find them and eat them before you do. They are best harvested from the beginning of fall dormancy up to the beginning of the spring growth spurt.

Yacon2 Yacon_plant

More photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/search?sort=relevance&text=Polymnia%20sonchifolia

Information sheet to print out (pdf)

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