Thursday, March 8, 2012
The Huachuca Potato - Solanum fendleri
Eureka , Ive found it! ( maybe), for 2 years now my good friend Matt and me have been searching for the Elusive “Huachuca Potato” . It is a wild mountain relative, of the more common potatos we all use. This Particular type of 'tater ( Solanum fendleri ) is a native of the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico.
I first heard about this Potato during a chance meeting with a Botanist while I was out hiking one day. We talked about all of the unique species that are found only in the Chiricahua and Huachuca mountains. Supposedly this species has been crossed with domestic types in hopes of making common potatos resistant to the Columbia root-knot nematode. Wild potatoes growing high above the desert in southeastern Arizona may hold the genetic key to stopping this pest. But the Hua 'tater aint resistant to being ravaged by Javalina.
This Botanist mentioned the “Huachuca potato” as one of the oldest known cultivated crops in these mountain ranges. Pretty Cool!
My friend Matt and I began researching this plant and discovered the types of habitat and elevations where it could possibly be found.
The other day while exploring a wash – one of the only true washes I have ever found in the Huachucas, ( washes have a stone floor – arroyos have a sandy floor – google it. ). At an elevation of around 7000 feet, I found a sandy area in the bend of the wash. The area had been well rooted through by Javalina, and I was curious what they had been eating. Taking my walking stick, I raked around in the sandy soil and unearthed what looked like a small red potato!
Needless to say I was a bit excited, I looked around some more but failed to locate any other tubers.
I dug a small hole in the soil and filled it with water from my Nalgene bottle then replanted the little red 'tater.
Im going back to the location in mid may ( if im in the area ) and see if it ( or other plants ) had sprouted. Cant wait!
Tomahawk – Scouts Out!