Anu (Tropaeolum tuberosum)

Perennial Climber
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Tropaeolum tuberosum

The growing plant is very resistant to diseases and insects, it contains nematocidal, bactericidal and insecticidal compounds[196].

  • Medicinal Use

    The tuber is considered to be an anaphrodisiac in the Andes, reducing sexual desire. Many men, therefore, refuse to eat it, whilst recommending it for use by women![196]. Clinical trials have indicated a reduction of up to 45% in some male hormones when the tuber forms a considerable part of the diet, but no loss in fertility has been observed[196].

  • Edible Use

    Tubers – cooked[1, 2]. A peppery flavour, it is rather unpleasant to many tastes[27, 34, 37]. The flavour can be improved somewhat by freezing the tubers after they have been cooked, they are then considered to be a delicacy by many people[183]. We have also noticed an improvement in the flavour if the tubers are harvested after they have been frosted, though if the frost is too heavy they can damage the tubers[K]. Other reports suggest half-drying the tubers before use[27, 34, 97, 183]. The tubers can be up to 10cm long and 5cm thick[260]. They are high in vitamin C[196]. The dried tuber contains up to 16% protein[196].

    Leaves – raw or cooked as a vegetable[183, 196].

    Flowers – raw[183, 196].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow early spring in a greenhouse. Prick the seedlings out into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. So far we have been unable to obtain seed from plants grown in this country. Division of the tubers in the autumn or spring. In cold winter areas the tubers can be harvested in the autumn after top-growth has died down and they can then be stored in a cool frost-free position until planting them out in the spring. Cuttings of basal stems in the spring[200]. Pot them up into individual pots and place them in light shade in a frame until they are established. Plant out in early summer.
Requires a well-drained lime-free soil in a warm sunny position[1, 33, 200]. Grows best with its roots in the shade and top growth in the sun[202]. Plants can become dormant in hot dry summers[90]. Grows best in a pH range from 5.3 to 7.5[196]. Prefers a turfy loam or a sandy peaty soil[1]. This species is not very hardy when grown outdoors in Britain. The top growth will survive light frosts, whilst the tubers, if well mulched, will survive to at least -5¡c[1, 200]. Anu is sensitive to the number of hours of daylight in a day and most forms will not flower or form new tubers until late in the season (from September), so a mild autumn is required for good yields[33].The variety ‘Ken Aslet’, however, is not affected by daylight hours, it flowers from June to October and produces larger tubers than the species from mid-summer onwards[90, 104, 200]. The tubers are formed very near the surface of the soil[90] and so will require some protection, such as a mulch, if they are to be left in the ground over the winter[K]. The tubers can also be stored in a cool dry frost-free place over the winter and then planted out in April[200]. Long cultivated in the Andes for its edible root, there are many named varieties[2, 61, 90, 104, 196]. A potentially very high-yielding species, individual plants can produce up to 4 kilos of tubers – yields of 50 tonnes per hectare are possible[196]. A climbing plant, it supports itself by twisting its leaf stalks around other plants etc[219]. The caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly can be a nuisance and often cause considerable damage to the leaves[219].
S. America – Peru, Bolivia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.