Mauka (Mirabilis expansa)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Mirabilis expansa

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    Root – dried in the sun then boiled and eaten as a vegetable[183]. The root contains about 7% protein, a good quantity for a root crop[183] and up to 87% carbohydrate on a dry weight basis[196]. Roots can be the size of a man’s forearm[196]. Some forms, especially those from Bolivia, contain an astringent substance that can burn the lips and mouth. When exposed to the sun these roots become sweet and are pleasant to eat[196]. Forms grown in Ecuador are not astringent[196]. Roots can be used in sweet or savoury dishes[196].

    The cooking water makes an especially flavourful drink[183].

    Leaves – raw. Added to salads[183, 196]. The leaves contain about 17% protein[196] (this is probably based on the dry weight[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed remains viable for several years[196]. Division. Dig up roots in the autumn, store in a cool moist frost-free place over the winter and replant in April.
Prefers a loose alluvial soil[196]. The plant might be intolerant of frost[196]. The top growth is certainly sensitive to frost, being cut back at temperatures below zero, but the root seems to be much hardier[K]. This species is occasionally cultivated for its edible root in the Andes, there are some named varieties. The plant is said to grow well in cold harsh environments with strong winds[183, 196]. Many factors such as the plant’s daylength requirement, are unknown but the plant seems to have potential as a crop in temperate areas of the world[196]. In the harsh environments where the plant grows it can take up to 2 years for the crop to mature, though it is usually harvested after a year. Yields of 50 tonnes per hectare after 2 years are possible[196]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
S. America – Andes.

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*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.