Mirabilis expansa Growth, Yield, and Quality Traits: First US Field Trials for an Ancient, Endangered, Andean Crop
Crop introductions have historical importance. Ancient, endangered, Andean root and forage crop Mirabilis expansa (Ruiz and Pav.) Standl. (Nyctaginaceae), has high quality starch and protein, is drought resistant, and exhibits high morphological variation on individuals. Leaves are used for animal forage, roots for human food. Processing of the calcium oxalate could make M. expansa a significant modern crop. Cultivated varieties 'L' and 'T’ were grown in constructed, lysimeter sand plots in southern Illinois 2008—2009. There was sufficient survival and growth data for var. ‘L’ for testing with Repeated Measures ANOVAs. Tables of mean averages of harvest data are included for each variety. Var. ‘L’ plots had three levels of soil amendments plus all-sand as the control. Plant height, longest and typical axial shoot length, emerging axial and lateral shoot numbers, lamina length with and without petiole included, lamina width, and estimated herbivory, all had significance at P<0.05, for tracking growth in at least some soil amendments. The 3% (w/w) steer manure amendment was optimal for growth. M. expansa cultivars were therefore shown as adapted to the southern Illinois climate in the modified plots. M. expansa is unlikely to become invasive or a major crop where standing water persists in the root zone.