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The sweet potato or sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family, Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is commonly thought to be a type of potato (Solanum tuberosum) but does not belong to the nightshade family, Solanaceae, but both families belong to the same taxonomic order, the Solanales. The sweet potato, especially the orange variety, is often called a “yam” in parts of North America, but is botanically very distinct from true yams.
The plant is a herbaceous perennial vine, bearing alternate heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves and medium-sized sympetalous flowers. The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between yellow, orange, red, brown, purple, and beige. Its flesh ranges from beige through white, red, pink, violet, yellow, orange, and purple. Sweet potato cultivars with white or pale yellow flesh are less sweet and moist than those with red, pink or orange flesh.