- Family Euphorbiaceae
- Manihot esculenta
- Raw manioc is lethal raw and must be extensively soaked and cooked before use.
Native to tropical Central and South America, it now grows principally in Brazil and on the eastern side of the Andes. Both the sweet and bitter varieties are cultivated as an important food crop in tropical areas around the world. The plant is a shrub, growing to six feet producing fleshy roots, woody stems, large palm-shaped leaves, and green flowers. The root is unearthed eight months to two years after planting.
Only the sweet manioc is safe to eat without the extensive processing that must take place with the bitter varieties. Manioc has long been used as a food (see Food section on this website) and is still a major staple in some areas of the world.
Tapioca is the Brazilian name for the processed form of the root.
The Witoto of the Colombian Amazon poison fish with the water used to wash the bitter manioc.
The Makuna people use the wash water to treat scabies.
- heals external wounds
- cyanogenic glycosides (up to 0.03% bitter varieties and 0.007% in sweet varieties)
Manioc root, once properly prepared, is easily digestible and makes a suitable low-protein food for convalescence.
The bitter varieties are soaked in water and the water used as skin washes for such conditions as scabies, skin infections, and skin infestations.
The bitter varieties are also used to treat diarrhea and dysentery.
Manioc flour can be used to help heal dry, weeping skin conditions.
Poultices are used to draw out skin toxins or foreign objects. In China, a poultice is made of manioc, wheat flour, and ginger to draw out pus when infection is present.