Strange Science: Sweet Potatoes All Over the World

Sweet potatoes, Ipomoea batatasSweet potatoes come from Central and South America. Or maybe they come from Polynesian Islands. Or maybe they come from both!

Historical accounts place sweet potatoes in these disparate locations, without any clear evidence of cross-cultural contact in the same time period. And scientists have determined that sweet potatoes in both locations come from the same genetic ancestor. But they can’t quite explain how the same plant evolved in the same way in two different locations–it seems more likely that specimens from one location found their way to another location.

The timing, however, suggests that it wasn’t done by human hands. It’s possible that animals carried enough of a sweet potato plant to a different part of the world, or that the ocean might have done the same. But not all scientists agree on the likelihood of such an occurrence.

For now, the story of sweet potatoes all over the world is still a work in progress. But new advances in examining plant DNA has opened up this story for future chapters.

To read more about the studies and theories, check out this article!

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