Foods Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere



By Jeremy Trombley

Malanga is the most common name for the various species of the Xanthosoma genus which produce large, edible roots known as corms. These plants are also referred to by the name cocoyam, yautia or tannia in various parts of the world, and are of the same family as the similar root crop taro. Malanga corms may be up to one food long and several inches around. They are generally brown and hary on the outside and white on the inside. They may contain calcium oxalate crystals which are acrid, and must be neutralized by peeling and cooking. Nutritionally, malanga is very similar to potatoes, containing a high concentration of starch and protein. Cultivation likely began in northern South America and spread north to Mexico, into the Caribbean and south as far as Bolivia before the arrival of Europeans to the continent. Since that time, the cultivation has spread to parts of Southeast Asia and Africa. Malanga is often grown complementarily with taro because it is suitable to dry regions while taro favors wet environments, therefore, one may be grown in a region where the other may not.


Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plants Products - Xanthosoma spp.

Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food 2nd Ed. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, USA, 2006.