The Q&A Archives: Starchy tuber--a redundancy?

Question: I refer to potatoes as starchy tubers. Is this redundant? Are all tubers starchy? Or does the size reflect the starchy-ness? Are dahlia and begonia tubers starchy?
Thank you for your help.
Cindy H, Washington School, Summit, NJ

Answer: In a botanical sense, a tuber is an enlarged portion of an underground stem. It's considered a storage organ and as carbohydrates are collected it becomes enlarged. Potatoes are starchy tubers. Each tuber has many growth buds, each of which is capable of sprouting a new plant by utilizing the carbohydrates it has stored. We eat potatoes and consider the carbohydrates they contain to be a starch. Dahlia tubers are actually tuberous roots. They store carbohydrates for the plant, but without a growth bud from the crown of the plant (located on the stem), it is incapable of producing a new plant. Begonias have enlarged stems located between the roots and the regular stem of the plant. These enlarged stems are called tuberous stems. A begonia plant can be propagated by cutting the tuberous stem into sections so each section has a growth bud.

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