What you see: Thick, raised lines, looking something like veins, on the surface of your sweet potato
What it is: Fibrous roots growing on the sweet potato
Eat or toss: Eat! It looks weird, but it’s perfectly fine to eat
If I’m being honest, the first question I had for this sweet potato was, “Do you lift?” I mean, really. Does it not look like the bulging bicep of a cartoonishly muscular potato person?
Anyway, moving on. What’s really happening here is that, possibly in reaction to hot, dry weather, or some other stress back in the field, this sweet potato merged two different types of root structures. Normally, the plant starts out with one kind of root and then ultimately develops a combination of fibrous roots, which go out in search of water and nutrients, and storage roots, which swell and become the sweet potatoes we eat. In a case like this, some fibrous roots appear to be clinging to the surface of a storage root. Because they are attached to the storage root, they probably aren’t doing much in the way of searching for water and nutrients, but they’re still sporting a fibrous look. Weird!
Some varieties, like Batas, a less common white fleshed sweet potato, are more susceptible to this condition, according to Brandon Parker, an agricultural extension agent for North Carolina State University.
As for taste, I peeled this potato as usual and didn’t notice any strange appearance or taste below the skin. But, a write-up from the University of California Cooperative Extensions says that the vein areas could be tough. If you eat a sweet potato like this, let us know what you think!
p.s. Wondering about those holes in this sweet potato too? Don't worry - we'll get to them in a future post!
Brandon Parker - Extension Agent, Agriculture - Commercial Horticulture - Johnston County Center - North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension
University of California Cooperative Extension - Growing Sweet Potatoes in the Sacramento Area
Sweetpotato Diagnotes. Root System. Website produced by the Centre for Biological Information Technology (CBIT) - The University of Queensland
BMC Genomics. 2013; 14: 460. Transcriptional profiling of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) roots indicates down-regulation of lignin biosynthesis and up-regulation of starch biosynthesis at an early stage of storage root formation
You're so vein, you probably think this post is about you...