Crystal Yacón – Smallanthus sonchifolius
The Crystal Yacón, Smallanthus sonchifolius, is a very productive new cultivar making some of the biggest yacon tubers we have grown, which turn light red on skin and have a beautiful white crystalline chatoyancy in the flesh.
The yacón is a species of perennial daisy traditionally grown in the northern and central Andes from Colombia to northern Argentina for its crisp, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots. Their texture and flavour are very similar to jicama, mainly differing in that yacón has some slightly sweet, resinous, and floral (similar to violet) undertones to its flavour, probably due to the presence of inulin, which produces the sweet taste of the roots of elecampane, as well. Another name for yacón is Peruvian ground apple, possibly from the French name of potato, pomme de terre (ground apple). The tuber is composed mostly of water and fructooligosaccharide.
Commonly called jicama in Ecuador, yacón is sometimes confused with that unrelated plant, which is a bean. The yacón, in contrast, is a close relative of the sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke. The plant produces a perennial rhizome to which are attached the edible, succulent storage roots, the principal economic product of the plant. The rhizome develops just under the surface of the soil and continuously produces aerial shoots. Dry and/or cold seasons cause the aerial shoots to die back, but the plant re-sprouts from the rhizome under favorable conditions of temperature and moisture. The edible storage tubers are large and typically weigh from a few hundred grams to a kilogram or so.