Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) is a vegetable that has been used by humans for 8000 years and has been in cultivation for about 1400 years in Peru and Bolivia at over 3000 meters above sea level. It has been grown along side of the famous potato, as well as yacon and oca.
It is a tuberous nasturtium very well suited to our cold temperate maritime climate in Ireland. In spring, when it’s still cold and not much else is growing, mashua takes off to an early start and it almost takes over the place with it’s climbing shoots. In fall it flowers and retracts back into fresh tuberous stored underground for the winter well protected from the frost. No artificial storage and replanting required, same as the potato and the oca when using woodchip mulch. In our gardens they have been coming back year after year more vigorous.
The whole plant is edible i.e. leafs, flowers in salads and the tubers are best roasted but can be eaten raw.