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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Ipomoea costata – Desert Potato (seed)

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Ipomoea costata is a semi-prostrate scrambling vine with heart shaped leaves and funnel shaped rose/purple flowers with a dark throat. Native to sandy arid parts of Northern Australia (NT, WA and QLD). I. costata is a native whose tubers were an important food source for Aborigines. Closely related to the sweet potato it produces large, tasty tubers. Tubers can be as large as an adult head and can occur 0.5-1m below ground level. Aboriginals used to thump the ground to listen for a change in sound that would indicate the presence of a large tuber worth digging for.

Ipomoea costata was an sacred plant for many Indigenous nations, below are their names for the species.

  • Alyawarr: anaty
  • Anmatyerr: anaty or anek
  • Eastern Arrernte: anatye
  • Western Arrernte: natye
  • Pintupi: ala or yala. Warlpiri: karnti or paparda

Care and Cultivation of Ipomoea costata

Ipomoea costata seeds should be hot water treated before sowing. Place seeds in a cup and pour just boiled water over them and leave to soak for 12-24hrs. Otherwise, seeds can be slightly nicked away from the embryo and soaked in water overnight to speed germination. Likes adequate water over the growing season and a full-sun to part-shade position in well drained soil. Quite tolerant of dry and hot conditions. Grows in sandy and clayey soils of inland Australia. Treat as similar to cacti in winter and limit or abstain from watering as you will encounter rot problems.

8 seeds per packet


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