Friends of the Arboretum Lecture

Cosponsored by Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.

"Andean Underground: Tubers, Bulbs, Corms, and Other Hidden Organs"
Alfredo Grau, Ph.D., University of Tucumán, Argentina

  • Tuesday, September 16, 2003 – 7:30 pm9:00 pm

Most plant enthusiasts know that the Irish potato comes from the Andes. Not so many know that the Irish potato, Solanum tuberosum and S. andigenum, are just the overachievers of much wider "underground" movement. Ullucus tuberosus, Oxalis tuberosa, Pachyrhizus ahipa, Tropaeolum tuberosum, Lepidium meyenii, Arracacha xanthorhiza, Mirabilis expansa, and Smallanthus sonchifolius are some of the bulky domesticates that accompany potatoes in the Andean peasant fields. Many others did not make it all the way to the crop fields. Yet they occasionally reach the table, or at least the stomach, like Hypseocharis pimpinellifolia and Oxalis. H. pimpinellifolia has been consumed in the Andes during millennia. It was never cultivated, and most likely it will never be, as tuber crop. As an ornamental though, I suspect a bright niche. Many tuberous Andean plants, edible or not, are fantastic ornamentals. Begonia and Hippeastrum are well known examples. Others, like Hieronymiella are yet to be discovered by the wide public of plant lovers. This talk will show an overview of Andean tuberous plants and the landscapes were they grow, focusing on some lesser-known species, some attractive ornamentals, and others with interesting properties such as food, medicines, or insecticides.

Alfredo Grau is a professor of Plant Biology at the University of Tucumán in Argentina. He received his degree in horticulture from the University of Tucumán in 1981 and later received his Ph.D. in Natural Sciences (Plant Physiology) from the Institute for General Botany at Hamburg University in Germany. Alfredo has traveled extensively in the Andes of Argentina and Bolivia, looking for plants and climbing mountains (originally climbing first, and then looking for plants). Plant interests have led him to other regions in the world, like the European Alps or New Zealand. He is currently researching Andean tubers (others than potato) and Andean ornamentals.

Free for Friends of the JC Raulston Arboretum members, NC State University students (with ID), and Department of Horticultural Science faculty and staff, all others $5.00.
Advance registration is not available.
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Need directions? Click here.
Free parking is available at the JC Raulston Arboretum and along Beryl Road.
Please call (919) 513-7005 for more information about this lecture.