The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family (also known as the nightshades). The word may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species. Potatoes were introduced outside the Andes region four centuries ago, and have become an integral part of much of the world's cuisine. It is the world's fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat and maize. Long-term storage of potatoes requires specialised care in cold warehouses.

Wild potato species occur throughout the Americas, from the United States to southern Chile. The potato was originally believed to have been domesticated independently in multiple locations, but later genetic testing of the wide variety of cultivars and wild species proved a single origin for potatoes in the area of present-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule complex), where they were domesticated 7,000–10,000 years ago. Following centuries of selective breeding, there are now over a thousand different types of potatoes. Of these subspecies, a variety that at one point grew in the Chiloé Archipelago (the potato's south-central Chilean sub-center of origin) left its germplasm on over 99% of the cultivated potatoes worldwide.

The annual diet of an average global citizen in the first decade of the 21st century included about 33 kg (73 lb) of potato. However, the local importance of potato is extremely variable and rapidly changing. It remains an essential crop in Europe (especially eastern and central Europe), where per capita production is still the highest in the world, but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. China is now the world's largest potato-producing country, and nearly a third of the world's potatoes are harvested in China and India.

Read more about Potato:  Etymology, Characteristics, Genetics, History, Role in World Food Supply, Nutrition, Growth and Cultivation, Genetically Modified Potatoes, Pests, Uses, Art

Other articles related to "potato":

Chronology Of The Great Famine
... The proximate cause was famine resulting from a potato disease commonly known as late blight ... Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland – where a third of the population was ...
Sheldon Farms
... The farm is known for its heirloom vegetables including the Green Mountain potato, Ozette Potato, Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter tomato, and Aunt Molly's Husk tomato (aka Ground Cherry) ... They also produce the hybrid potato varieties Adirondack Red potato, Adirondack Blue potato developed by Cornell University ...
Potato - Art
... The potato has been an essential crop in the Andes since the pre-Columbian Era ... During the late 19th century, numerous images of potato harvesting appeared in European art, including the works of Willem Witsen and Anton Mauve ... Van Gogh's 1885 painting "The Potato Eaters" portrays a family eating potatoes ...
Somatic Fusion
... between non-flowering potato plants and flowering potato plants) or between two different species (e.g ... Uses of somatic fusion include making potato plants resistant to potato leaf roll disease ... Through somatic fusion, the crop potato plant Solanum tuberosum – the yield of which is severely reduced by a viral disease transmitted on by the aphid ...
Solanum Rostratum
... rostratum is the ancestral host plant of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, but this pest adopted the potato, Solanum tuberosum as a new (and more succulent) host, a fact first ... It then expanded its range rapidly eastward on potato crops in the next two decades ...

Famous quotes containing the word potato:

    The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
    Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
    Through living roots awaken in my head.
    But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
    Seamus Heaney (b. 1939)