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One of the exotic plants that is difficult to find on the shelves of Russia is jicama, or Mexican turnip. It is an amazing root vegetable that the Mexicans have been growing since ancient times.
The vegetable was used both as fodder for livestock and as a food base for the indigenous population of Mexico and Central America.
Definition and botanical description: is it a vegetable or a fruit?
Hikama (lat.Pachyrhizus erosus), or Pachyrhizus cutout, is a herbaceous liana plant belonging to the Legume family. Known by names:
- Mexican potatoes;
- yam beans;
- Mexican turnip.
The flowers are bisexual, clustered in a brush inflorescence, self-pollinated. The calyx can be white, yellow, or blue, depending on the plant variety. Fruit - finely pubescent pods from 8 to 20 cm in length, up to one and a half centimeters wide. The plant can bloom up to 11 months a year.
The root system is represented by the actual tuber used for food, and a long root. The tuber is large, outwardly resembling a radish or potato in shape. From above, the tuber is covered with a yellowish, brown or off-white thin shell.
The inside of the jicama root is edible.
Historical homeland - Mexico and Central America. In the literature, the plant was first mentioned in 1553, in the book "Chronicle of Peru" by Pedro Cieza de Lyon, called jicama. Hikama has been cultivated since ancient times by the indigenous peoples of Central and South America.
Later, the plant began to grow in the Philippines, Indonesia, as well as Malaysia and China. Hikama is currently being cultivated:
- in some African countries;
- on the islands of the Pacific Ocean;
- the Caribbean;
- and also in India.
Appearance and dimensions: description and photo
The mass of a Mexican turnip tuber on average ranges from 300-1000 grams, and the diameter ranges from 10 cm. There are also giant representatives weighing up to 20 kg and up to 2 meters in diameter.
Below you can see what the jikama looks like:
Distribution and habitat
Distributed in dry tropical regions - Mexico, Central America. Cultivated:
- in Indonesia;
- African countries;
- in India.
Favorable temperature for growth - at least +30 degrees in the daytime and not lower than +20 - in the dark.
Prefers loamy and sandy soils with loose and well-warmed soil. The plant does not tolerate moisture and stagnant water in the substrate, tolerates drought and high temperatures much easier. The higher and more stable the temperature of the environment and soil, the larger the vegetable can reach.
Useful properties and contraindications
Mexican potatoes are 80-90% water, so they practically do not carry any calories - 38 kcal per 100 grams of product. It contains a large amount of fiber, which normalizes metabolism in the gastrointestinal tract, fructose and inulin. Fats and cholesterol are present in small amounts. The hikama also includes:
- vitamins of groups A, C, E, B, K;
Of amino acids, the pulp of tubers contains:
Jikama fruits are used in folk medicine to treat:
- high blood pressure;
- diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
- iron deficiency anemia;
- used in medical dressings for wound healing.
The use of jicama in large quantities can lead to stagnant edema, sand movement and stones in the kidneys and bladder, so it is used with caution in diseases of the urinary system.
It is important not to eat the green parts of the yam beans and the tops of the tuber, as they contain rotenone, a substance that depressors the respiratory center. Careless use can cause respiratory arrest and death.
How to choose the store?
High-quality jicama tubers must be selected carefully. They should be dry and firm, not crumpled, without skin damage.
It is not recommended to buy jicama crumpled, darkened, with broken skin integrity... If possible, follow the same rules as when choosing potato tubers.
Hikama has a low glycemic index, so its use is possible with diabetes mellitus as one of the dietary products. As a separate drug, jicama is not used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Consuming Mexican turnip tubers allows you to better control your blood glucose levels without fear of an overabundance of bread units.
A vegetable is not a separate drug for the treatment of hypertension.
Due to the high content of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), the use of jicama tubers can lower blood pressure.
In addition, the high content of magnesium, potassium and sodium in Mexican turnip tubers helps to strengthen the walls of blood vessels and the heart, which in general helps to reduce pressure in the bloodstream.
To achieve a therapeutic effect, it is recommended to introduce peeled jicama tubers raw into the daily diet., consisting of:
- second courses;
- fruit and vegetable cocktails.
It is recommended to eat no more than 200 grams of raw pulp per day. regardless of the method of consumption - both cooked and raw.
Because yam bean tubers are low in calories and have a low glycemic index, they can be included in an obese diet by correlating their amounts with other foods.
The high fiber content helps to improve digestion, normalize metabolism, and cleanse the body of toxins. Also, tubers are a natural prebiotic that allows you to normalize the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract.
For weight loss, it is recommended to add fresh peeled jicama tubers to salads, soups, and include in fruit and vegetable cocktails. The volume of the resulting product is consumed in the amount prescribed by the diet.
For dermatological problems
For skin problems, not directly jicama tubers are used, but seeds and extracts from them. Dietary supplements, cosmetic preparations that improve the condition of the skin are made from the seeds of yam beans.
Crushed ripe yam bean seeds are used to heal wounds... A small amount of crushed gruel (1/2 teaspoon) is applied to bandages and compresses.
Oil extract from the seeds of Maksikan turnip is used when applied to the wound surface. It is important that the time of contact of the mass with the skin does not exceed 30 minutes.
- In salads.
- In soups.
- As part of vegetable and fruit cocktails.
- As a fried or stewed side dish for meat or fish.
- Eating Mexican turnips can cause swelling of the limbs, provoke an allergic reaction, cause frequent urination and urge to urinate.
- The fiber included in the composition can cause bloating and flatulence, as well as pain along the intestines.
- Frequent consumption of jicama pulp is not recommended for people suffering from chronic inflammation of the gastric and intestinal mucosa, since coarse fibers can injure the sensitive membrane.
How to grow a plant yourself?
Hikama is propagated in several ways - with the help of tubers and with the help of seeds. This is a laborious process, since the plant is not adapted to the climatic conditions of Russia.
Jicama is grown mainly in greenhouses with heated soil. In the open field, small tubers are formed.
It is difficult to buy hikama in the conditions of the Russian market - its prices are high, since for these latitudes the plant is uncharacteristic and is a product of import.
It is easier to purchase seeds through online stores, either in an agricultural center and grow a plant from them, or buy jicama tubers through online auctions, where their price can be from 150 rubles per piece.
- The place for planting is chosen warm, in a sunny area, the soil is loamy or sandy, loose.
- The soil is dug up and holes are prepared with a depth of 4-5 cm and a width, respectively, of a tuber.
- In a greenhouse, it is permissible to plant tubers in heated trays.
- The tubers are inspected for integrity.
- Make sure that there are small roots on the tubers and a green growth on the upper part - the neck.
- Dig up a bed with a cultivator or a shovel in accordance with the number of tubers. The distance between future plants is 35-40 cm, between rows - 40-50 cm.
- During digging, 10 liters of humus is introduced into 1 square meter of the garden bed.
- Tubers are planted in the dug-up bed, deepening by 5-6 centimeters.
- The bed is leveled without tamping.
- Crops are covered with non-woven fabric or agricultural cloth.
At the growth stage, jicama requires frequent watering - 3-4 times a week, the volume of water is not more than 7 liters per bush. Later, after the formation of the root system, watering is reduced to 1-2 times a week, the maximum volume of water is 3-5 liters per bush. At night, especially with threats of cold weather, the plants are covered with non-woven material.
Top dressing is required only in the first half of the growing season before flowering. Some agronomists recommend feeding at the stage of planting or transplanting seedlings. Top dressing is applied in the form of a compost infusion.
Long elastic tree branches, a trellis for tomatoes, iron rods of reinforcement are suitable to support the liana.
For the formation of tubers, it is necessary to break off the ovary of jicama flowers and limit the growth of the plant by pinching the leading shoots. Hikama is harvested in September-October before the first frost.
Diseases and pests
Of insects, hikamu can infect:
- Whitefly - lays eggs on leaves, from which small caterpillars hatch, feeding on juices of young shoots and leaves. Prevention and treatment is carried out with special insecticides against whitefly butterflies.
- Grape snails they can also attack the southern plant, eating succulent leaves and preventing the development of tubers. The damaged jicama goes into the growth of the vegetative part and almost does not form root crops. Prevention and control is carried out by weeding crops, regular inspection of plants and, if signs of an invasion of snails appear, chemical treatment.
Of diseases, it is sometimes affected by fungal invasionsincluding:
- late blight;
- ordinary scab;
- wet rot.
Disease prevention is reduced to compliance with the rules of crop rotation and irrigation regime, the use of mineral and organic fertilizers, compliance with the planting scheme.
Hikama is not a common plant even in the southern latitudes of Russia. However, some amateur gardeners can grow a capricious plant even in Siberia. In any case, Jicama still remains a rare guest on the counters of the country, despite the obvious benefits when consumed.