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Potato plants are herbaceous perennials that grow about 60 cm (24 in) high, depending on variety, with the leaves dying back after flowering, fruiting and tuber formation.

They bear white, pink, red, blue, or purple flowers with yellow stamens.

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The word has an unknown origin and was originally (c.

1440) used as a term for a short knife or dagger, probably related to the Latin "spad-" a word root meaning "sword"; cf. It subsequently transferred over to a variety of digging tools.

New varieties grown from seed can be propagated vegetatively by planting tubers, pieces of tubers cut to include at least one or two eyes, or cuttings, a practice used in greenhouses for the production of healthy seed tubers.

Plants propagated from tubers are clones of the parent, whereas those propagated from seed produce a range of different varieties. Three thousand of them are found in the Andes alone, mainly in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia.

They belong to eight or nine species, depending on the taxonomic school.

Apart from the 5,000 cultivated varieties, there are about 200 wild species and subspecies, many of which can be cross-bred with cultivated varieties. There is one pentaploid cultivated species (with 60 chromosomes): S. There are two major subspecies of Solanum tuberosum: andigena, or Andean; and tuberosum, or Chilean.but later genetic testing of the wide variety of cultivars and wild species proved a single origin for potatoes in the area of present-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule complex), where they were domesticated approximately 7,000–10,000 years ago.Over 99% of the presently cultivated potatoes worldwide descended from varieties that originated in the lowlands of south-central Chile, which have displaced formerly popular varieties from the Andes.The 16th-century English herbalist John Gerard referred to sweet potatoes as "common potatoes", and used the terms "bastard potatoes" and "Virginia potatoes" for the species we now call "potato".The name spud for a small potato comes from the digging of soil (or a hole) prior to the planting of potatoes.Tubers form in response to decreasing day length, although this tendency has been minimized in commercial varieties.

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