Miller, J. Creighton, Jr. Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Horticultural Science, College of Agriculture, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
Thurston, H. David Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Last reviewed:June 2021
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A plant Solanum tuberosum that produces an edible tuber (also called potato). There are approximately 1500–2000 species of Solanum in the nightshade family Solanaceae (order Solanales), of which approximately 150 bear tubers. The potato of commerce, S. tuberosum (Fig. 1), originated in South America, probably in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia, where it has been cultivated for several thousand years. Potatoes, which are related to tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, were introduced into Europe by Spanish explorers in the late sixteenth century and into the United States from Ireland in 1719. The crop became a staple in Europe and was a primary source of food in Ireland. Hence, it is often known as the Irish potato; it also is called white potato. The potato blight famine in Ireland during 1845 and 1846, which was caused by the water mold Phytophthora infestans, was responsible for the death of more than 1 million Irish people and the emigration of about 1.5 million others. See also: Horticultural crops; Solanales; South America
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