Characteristics of potatoes

Characteristics of Solanum tuberosum

What are potatoes?

Photo of potatoes fresh from the ground. Potatoes are actually underground stems thickened with reserve substances. See the roots that arise from the tubers and are different from these

Potatoes are the edible tubers of the potato plant (Solanum tuberosum L), a plant belonging to the Solanaceae family, related to tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. They are a very ancient food, used by the peoples of America before Christopher Columbus arrived there.

Where do the potatoes come from?

Las patatas vienen de América. It seems that the ancient Incas already consumed them habitually. The potato plant was imported to Europe, although it took a long time for its consumption to be adopted, since the plant was toxic (due to the presence of the alkaloid solanine) and it was thought that the consumption of potatoes could also cause diseases if consumed.

When did potatoes begin to be consumed in Europe?

Its consumption did not become generalized until the 17th century, due to the scarcity of food that prevailed during this period.


The potato plant is toxic. It contains an alkaloid called solanine that appears in all the outer parts of the plant (leaves, stems, flowers and fruits) and also in the tender shoots of the tubers when they germinate.

Ingestion of the plant produces gastrointestinal, hepatic and cardiac damage that can lead, in case of high ingestion, to death.

punto rojo More information on potatoes

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

4 May, 2023

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