Pachyrhizus erosus

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Pachyrhizus erosus
Pachyrhizus erosus Blanco2.249.png
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Pachyrhizus
P. erosus
Binomial name
Pachyrhizus erosus

Pachyrhizus erosus, commonly known as jícama (/ˈhɪkəmə/ or /ɪˈkɑːmə/;[1] Spanish jícama [ˈxikama] (listen); from Nahuatl xīcamatl, [ʃiːˈkamatɬ]) Mexican turnip, is the name of a native Mexican vine, although the name most commonly refers to the plant's edible tuberous root. Jícama is a species in the Pachyrhizus erosus in the pea family. (Fabaceae). Pachyrhizus tuberosus[2] and Pachyrhizus ahipa are the other two cultivated species. The naming of this group of edible plants can sometimes be confusing, with much overlap of similar or the same common names.

Flowers, either blue or white, and pods similar to peas, are produced on fully developed plants. Several species of jicama occur, but the one found in many markets is P. erosus. The two cultivated forms of P. erosus are jicama de agua and jicama de leche, both named for the consistency of their juice. The leche form has an elongated root and milky juice, while the agua form has a top-shaped to oblate root and a more watery, translucent juice and is the preferred form for the market.[3][4]


Fresh jícama for sale at a farmers' market

The jícama vine can reach a height of 4–5 metres (13–16 feet) given suitable support. Its root can attain lengths up to 2 m (6+12 ft) and weigh up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds). The heaviest jícama root ever recorded weighed 23 kg (51 lb) and was found in 2010 in the Philippines.[5] Jicama is frost-tender and requires nine months without frost for a good harvest of large tubers or to grow it commercially. It is worth growing in cooler areas that have at least five months without frost, as it will still produce tubers, but they will be smaller. Warm, temperate areas with at least five months without frost can start seed 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost. Bottom heat is recommended, as the seeds require warm temperatures to germinate, so the pots will need to be kept in a warm place. Jicama is unsuitable for areas with a short growing season unless cultured in a greenhouse. Growers in tropical areas can sow seed at any time of the year. Those in subtropical areas should sow seeds once the soil has warmed in the spring.[6]


Other names for jicama include Mexican potato, ahipa, saa got, Chinese potato, and sweet turnip. In Ecuador and Peru, the name jicama is used for the unrelated yacón or Peruvian ground apple, a sunflower family plant whose tubers are also used as food.[4]


The jicama originated in Mexico and Central America.[7] It has been found at archaeological sites in Peru dating to 3000 BC.[7] In the 17th century, the jicama was introduced to Asia by the Spanish.[7]

Spread to Asia[edit]

Yambean (jicama), raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy159 kJ (38 kcal)
8.82 g
Sugars1.8 g
Dietary fiber4.9 g
0.09 g
0.72 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.02 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.029 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.2 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.135 mg
Vitamin B6
0.042 mg
Folate (B9)
12 μg
13.6 mg
Vitamin C
20.2 mg
12 mg
0.6 mg
12 mg
0.06 mg
18 mg
150 mg
4 mg
0.16 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water90 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Spaniards spread the cultivation of jícama from Mexico to the Philippines (where it is known as singkamas, from Nahuatl xicamatl),[8] from there it went to China and other parts of Southeast Asia, where notable uses of raw jícama include popiah, bola-bola (meatballs) and fresh lumpia in the Philippines, and salads in Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia such as yusheng and rojak.

In the Philippines, it is usually eaten fresh with condiments such as rice vinegar and sprinkled with salt or with bagoong (shrimp paste). It is also used as an extender for the Filipino versions of siomai and meatballs. In Malay, it is known as ubi sengkuang. In Indonesia, jícama is known as bengkuang. This root crop is also known by people in Sumatra and Java,[citation needed] and eaten at fresh fruit bars or mixed in the rojak (a kind of spicy fruit salad). Padang, a city in West Sumatra, is called "the city of bengkuang." Local people might have thought that this jícama is the "indigenous crop" of Padang. The crop has been grown everywhere in this city and has become a part of their culture.[9]


In contrast to the root, the remainder of the plant is very poisonous; the seeds contain the toxin rotenone, which is used to poison insects and fish.[10]


Diced fresh jícama, seasoned with Tajín chili powder

The root's exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples or raw green beans, and it is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice, alguashte, and chili powder. It is also cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes. Jícama is often paired with chilli powder, cilantro, ginger, lemon, lime, orange, red onion, salsa, sesame oil, grilled fish, and soy sauce.[11] It can be cut into thin wedges and dipped in salsa. In Mexico, it is popular in salads, fresh fruit combinations, fruit bars, soups, and other cooked dishes. The exterior of the seed pods is edible and can be used in cooking; for example, the Ilocano dish "Bunga ng singkamas" is cooked in a stew as the main ingredient.

Flour can be made from the tubers by slicing, drying, and grinding them.[12]


Raw jícama is 90% water, 9% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and contains negligible fat (table). In a 100 grams (3.5 oz) reference amount, it supplies 38 calories and is a rich source of vitamin C, with no other micronutrients in significant content (table).


Jícama should be stored dry, between 12.5 and 15 °C (55 and 59 °F). The jicama root will stay fresh for up to 4 months within this temperature range. Whole jicama can also be stored in a refrigerator to keep it free from moisture for up to 3 weeks. Storing at colder temperatures can discolor, damage the root, and degrade its texture. The root will keep fresh for one week after being sliced and should be wrapped & refrigerated for storage in this state.[13]


  1. ^ Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014. S.v. "Jicama." Retrieved July 18, 2017 from
  2. ^ Pachyrhizus tuberosus
  3. ^ Johnson, Hunter. "Extension Vegetable Specialist". UC-Davis.
  4. ^ a b "Globalization of Foods-Jicama". Global Bhasin. Archived from the original on 11 January 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  5. ^ 'Heaviest' Singkamas Found in Ilocos
  6. ^ "Jicama Growing Information". Green Harvest. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Sanderson, Helen (2005). Prance, Ghillean; Nesbitt, Mark (eds.). The Cultural History of Plants. Routledge. p. 67. ISBN 0415927463.
  8. ^ "Singkamas". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  9. ^ "What is Jicama?". Innovateus. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  10. ^ Duke, James A. (1992). "Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants". Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. CRC Press. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
  11. ^ Green, Aliza (2004). Field Guide to Produce. Quirk Books. p. 194. ISBN 1-931686-80-7.
  12. ^ The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants. United States Department of the Army. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. 2009. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-60239-692-0. OCLC 277203364.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. ^ D'Sa, Elaine M. (September 2004), Using and Preserving Jicama (PDF), The University of Georgia: National Center for Home Food Preservation, p. 1

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