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Jicama – A Root with Eleven Names

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You know, I sometimes have to stop and share the gratitude that I have for falling into the raw, whole food diet. I had come to realize over the years that when I was eating a highly processed diet… I had no idea of all the wonderful whole foods that were out there. Let alone how in the heck they grew. I am now so much more in tune with the high vibrations that come from fresh, living foods. If you are ready to get your hands dirty, we can get busy and dig up some information on jicama.


Do you have a nickname for yourself? Or perhaps, someone else “gifted” you with one? I have three; Toots (my birth dad gave it to me, and it has been used since I was a toddler), Bob, my loving husband, calls me Angel, and lastly, my little sister came up with MeMe Soup (elegant way of saying Amie Sue lol). But jicama! Dang, it has many names. Jicama (pronounced he’-cama) has a variety of common names including climbing yam bean; Mexican potato; Mexican Water Chestnut; Mexican turnip; cây củ đậu (Vietnam); seng kuang (Malay); di gwa (Chinese); kuzuimo (Japan); sinkamas (Filipino); man kaeo (Thai); sankalu (Hindi).

A Root Disguised as a Vine


Jicama is a tropical plant that grows best in warm climates throughout Central America and USDA zones 7 through 10. Dratz, we are zone 5 here on Oldfather Farms so we won’t be growing jicama anytime soon. But thankfully, I can find them at our local grocery store.

Generally planted from seeds, jicama does best in warm climates with a medium amount of rain. It is sensitive to frost. If planted from seed, the roots require about five to nine months of growth before harvest.

When started from whole, small roots, only three months are needed to produce mature roots. Removal of the flowers has been shown to increase the yield of the jicama plant.

With sufficient support, the vines can climb 20-30 feet. If I were to stumble upon these vines, I would have been clueless that a root veggie is waiting for us down below. I love surprises like that.

The trifoliate leaves are opposite on the stem and can be up to 18 inches across. As a legume, this plant is capable of nitrogen fixation and therefore has low fertilizer requirements.

In time, a flower grows on the vine, waits to be pollinated, and soon after it will develop into a bean-like pod. Always remember that jicama is grown for the root/tuber, not for the beans.

These pods grow roughly 5-6 inches in length over a 2-3 month period turning dark brown or black as they reach maturity. When they have fully dried, the pods split open to release the seeds.

By this time, the vines have also started to dry and decline, and you can dig the edible root. Each vine produces a single, sometimes lobed, storage root, which varies in size and shape. Roots can become quite large, often weighing several pounds, but smaller ones are much more common. In just one acre of planted jicama, the yields are in the range of five to seven tons, now that’s a hefty amount of jicama!

A Toxic Reaction to make Note of

“Only the root portion of jicama is edible. The leaves, flowers, and vines of the plant contain rotenone, a natural insecticide designed to protect the plant from predators. Eating any of these parts of the plant can cause a toxic reaction. While the seed pods can sometimes be eaten when young, the mature pods are toxic. To be safe, it is best to only eat the root (underground) portion of the plant”. (1)




Uses of the Jicama


How to Select a Jicima

Storing Jicama

Well, I am going to wrap this up for now. I hope you learned something because I sure did. Have a blessed day, amie sue

6 thoughts on “Jicama – A Root with Eleven Names

  1. cjan7 says:

    Very interesting!! Just know that John and I love jicama! It’s mostly always in our fridge to add to every meal in different ways…. Hugs and thanks for the info….jan

    • amie-sue says:

      That’s great Jan. :) We enjoy them too but don’t think of them too often… how sad is that?! lol So nice to hear from you. I owe you an email! love and hugs, amie sue

  2. Jokuhgoesraw says:

    Hi Amie Sue,

    A question for you….with What can I substitute the jicama as we don’t have them here in the Netherlands. I have been searching for years Now. Any suggestions?


    • amie-sue says:

      Good evening Jokugoesraw,

      It would depend on how the jicama is being used in a recipe. The main foods that come to mind are celery, Asian Pear, green apples, turnips, radishes, water chestnuts (not raw) or English cucumber. Depending on the recipe you want to decern flavor and texture. I hope this helps, blessings, amie sue

  3. I recently learned that Jicama is one of the top 10 prebiotic foods. Those foods that feed the ‘good’ bacteria in our guts!! What a wonderful natural gift. I might try to dehydrate them into chips… When I do I will let you know.

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