Common name: Peruvian ginseng, maca, Maka, pepperweed, pepper grass, small flake.
Vernacular names: ayak, chichira, ayak willku, Huto-Huto. Shiuha (type of wild maca).
In Spanish: maca, ginseng peruano, maca-maca, ginseng-maca, maino, Doctor Macasi.
Maca is the common name of this plant in the Quechua language. Drift Ma, "grown up" and Ca "food that strength."
Scientific name: Lepidium meyenii Walpers.
Taxonomic Synonyms: Lepidium peruvianum G.Chac�n.
Family: Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
Habitat: Maca is a plant native to the Andes Mountains, which grows naturally in the ecological zone called Puna or High Andean tundra, located between 3,800 and 4,450 (up 4,800) meters above sea level.
It is believed that the origin of maca was in Junin (Peru), from where it spread throughout the Andean plateau. Maca was domesticated by the Pumpush tribe, who inhabited the plateau Blossom (Junin).
Maca grows in inhospitable regions where it is impossible to grow other edible plants: areas marked by high mountains, where high winds sweep vegetation and terrain, and where there is a high exposure to solar radiation. Therefore, this valuable plant, known as the Queen of the Andes, is a vital crop to the economy of the Andean population.
Botanical description of Maca
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a biennial herbaceous plant, which develops its growth in two years. It is between 10-20 (up 30) inches in height, but sometimes it does not develop its aerial parts.
During the first year of planting, maca growing season remains for 8-9 months. During this period, it develops its underground part, consisting of the hypocotyl and tuberous roots.
The taproot is thick, and consists of the hypocotyl. The hypocotyl is the part of the seed that thickens to form the stem beneath the cotyledons, about 8 inches in diameter. This thick hypocotyl, or underground reserve organ, is full of nutritive substances such as carbohydrates, which enable the plant to survive food shortages and withstand adverse weather conditions like strong winds from the Andean highlands. It is a fleshy structure, globose rounded napiform. It Is integrated with the root tissue and ends in a thick root with numerous lateral roots.
Maca is a rosette plant, stems short and barely visible due to its dense foliage.
Maca leaves are small, compound, with enlarged composed limbo of 6-9 centimeters. The petiole is long with the top flattened. It has pinnatifid basal leaves. As a whole, l a plant may have 14 to 20 sheets.
The inflorescence is made of axillary racemes, which have the flowers. Maca flowers are small, hermaphrodite, actinomorphic and light green. They have 4 sepals and 4 petals, 2 stamens (rarely 3). Bicarpelar ovary with a short style. Petals are white and sepals are green and purple.
It is a self-pollinating plant that reproduces primarily by self-pollination. Genetically is octoploid-disomic and has 2n = 8x = 64 chromosomes.
The fruit of maca are two seed pods, separated by a partition that divides the fruit into two equal parts.
Seeds are orange, yellow or brown.
Composition of Maca
- Essential oil: phenyl acetonitrile (85.9% of essential oil), benzaldehydes (3.1%), derivatives of acetonitrile (2.1%).
- Protein: its composition is close to 11%.
- Fiber: 8.5 to 14%, cellulose and lignin.
- Phytosterols (0.5 - 0.1%): beta sitosterol, stigmasterol, 3.5-stigmastadiene, brassicasterol, ergostadienol, campesterol and 3-hydroxy-5-ergostene, 3.5 - estegmastadien-7-one, campesterol, stigmasterol.
- Glucosinolates (1%): glucotropeolin, benzyl glucosinolate; compounds which decompose to isothiocyanates: benzyl isothiocyanate, benzonitrile, benzyl alcohol, benzaldehyde, benzylamine and-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate. Methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate compound is believed to be responsible for the aphrodisiac properties.
- Alkaloids (macamides): macaridine, macaene and macaridine.
- Hydrochloride of 1,3-dibenzyl-4,5-dimethyl imidazole, hydrochloride of 1,3-dibenzyl-2,4,5-trimethyl-imidazole.
- Aromatic heterocyclic: pyridine.
Varieties of Maca
Depending on the color of the hypocotyl, there are different types of maca. The color difference is due to their content of anthocyanins and possibly xanthophyll. Color gives the different properties for each variety:
- Red variety: It can be found in some regions known as Puka. In scientific studies show that red maca has anticarcinogenic effects against prostate neoplasia. Maca is the variety with the most antioxidant potential.
- Variety purple-red: known as "maca miracle." It contains high amounts of anthocyanins with high antioxidant power.
- Black variety: is known as "black maca" or "yana maca". It has stimulating effects
More information about maca in the listing above.
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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.