Botanical Name: Oxalis tuberosa
Some other names: Oka, New Zealand Yam, Papa roja, Apilla, Hibia
How to grow it:
Oca is a hardy perennial to about 40cm which is grown mostly for it’s underground tubers. The plant dies back in winter and yields good crops of small pink tubers
Will do best in full sun and in well drained, fertile soils, but the plant’s quite hardy & will give reasonable crops in poor soils too..
Oca prefers a temperate climate for the best crops, but will grow in cooler subtropical areas too. I’ve found in my humid subtropical climate, the above ground parts wilt and will die if air temperatures are sustained above about 30 degrees. I wouldn’t bother with it in tropical areas unless you can find a locally adapted species.
It’s fairly drought tolerant though will need some decent water at some point in it’s growing season. Prefers full sun.
You propogate this plant with some of the harvested tubers the next spring. I’ve not tried it, but I’m sure tip cuttings early in the season would work too.
Would probably grow well in pots if a new pot is planted every spring.
High in Carbohydrates, calcium, iron, phosphorous, and vitamins A & B. Leaves are high in vitamin C and thought to be high in antioxidants.
Using it in the kitchen:
Leaves of the plant are pretty sour, but nutritious. You could add them sparingly to salads. They could be cooked into curries, stir fries & casseroles.
The edible tubers are harvested once all the foliage dies down. Store them sealed in plastic bags in the fridge
Tubers don’t need peeling and can be eaten fresh, or chopped and added to salads. They can also be cooked like potatoes – try them baked with your next roast. Add them whole or chopped to curries, casseroles or soups.
Oca are a great survival plant, particularly in temperate zones as they are easy to grow and yield good crops.