|Scientific Name: Manihot esculenta
English Name: Tapioca, Cassava
Chamorro Name: Mendioka
Description: Tapioca is a bushy herb with palmately divided leaves of 3-7 lobes, The flowers grow from leaf axils. The fruit is a rounded capsule. The root system is composed of multiple, elongated tubers.
F. Native to Brazil, Pantropical in cultivation.
Comments:There are two variations of tapioca cultivated on Guam. The short, fast-growing, green-stemmed, dull-leafed variety produces multiple tubers that are small, but do not need soaking to remove a toxic substance. If in doubt as to whether the tubers of a particular variety must be soaked, it is best to consult a knowledgeable Guamanian. The variety to be soaked takes longer to mature, grows taller and has red stems with glossier leaves. The tubers from both varieties are peeled before cooking with coconut milk to provide a starchy, potatolike vegetable with a slight acrid taste.