ETYM Spanish patata potato, batata sweet potato, from the native American name (probably batata) in Hayti.
Perennial plant Solanum tuberosum, family Solanaceae, with edible tuberous roots that are rich in starch. Used by the Andean Indians for at least 2,000 years before the Spanish Conquest, the potato was introduced to Europe by the mid-16th century, and reputedly to England by the explorer Walter Raleigh.
In Ireland, the potato famine in 1845, caused by a parasitic fungus, resulted in many thousands of deaths from starvation, and led to large-scale emigration to the US.
See also sweet potato under yam.
A potato genetically engineered to produce its own pesticide was awaiting final approval for commercial growth May 1995. Researchers added the gene for Bt toxin, a natural pesticide produced by a soil bacterium, into a potato plant. The plant now produces Bt within its leaves. Bt is one of the safest pesticides available—it leaves many beneficial insects unharmed, and breaks down quickly in the environment without leaving a harmful residue—but many scientists fear the commercial growth of this potato will lead to increased pesticide resistance.(Irregular plural: potatoes).
1. An edible tuber native to South America; a staple food of Ireland; SYN. white potato, Irish potato, murphy, spud, tater.
2. Annual native to South America having underground stolons bearing edible starchy tubers; widely cultivated as a garden vegetable; vines are poisonous; SYN. white potato, white potato vine, Solanum tuberosum.