Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Peruvian Ground Apple, Yakon, Yacon
Smallanthus sonchifolius

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Smallanthus
Species: sonchifolius

Synonym:Polymnia sonchifolia

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

27 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

Click thumbnail
to view:

By jozeeben
Thumbnail #1 of Smallanthus sonchifolius by jozeeben

By jozeeben
Thumbnail #2 of Smallanthus sonchifolius by jozeeben


7 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative mensamom On Jan 9, 2015, mensamom from Laurens, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I bought this tuber and planted it in a container so I could move it if the winter weather turned nasty. Well, it did! It was so brutally cold that winter the tuber did not survive even with the added protection of being in an enclosed garage. I am in zone 7b so it should have been ok during a normal winter here. Due to the relatively high cost of the tubers I doubt that I will try it again.

Positive spoonlegs On Jan 11, 2013, spoonlegs from Cottage Grove, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

Love this plant. It is also available from Nichols Garden Nursery, Peace Seeds, Peace Seedlings, and Raintree Nursery.

Positive paulobessa On Jul 7, 2012, paulobessa from Porto
Portugal (Zone 9a) wrote:

Yacon grows very easy. It grows well in a pot indoors or outside. It grows outside as a perennial in zone 9, it stands some frost and even some snow, I guess you can always dig/replant it. It tastes good, crispy and juicy, but its more like a fruit than a potato alternative. The yields are amazingly large. Very easy to divide! It need frequent watering and enjoys sun but grows also well in part shade.

Positive rassbach On Jan 27, 2012, rassbach from Berkeley, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Here in Zone 17, yacon grows very well and produces well.. Mine is in part shade. It doesn't need a lot of heat.

The flavor is much like jicama, with a moister, crisper crunch. The tubers do crack pretty easily but even after cracking store surprisingly well. The tubers darken a bit in storage and become a bit sweeter. Mostly we eat it raw, though in a stir-fry yacon retains its crunch.

The plant had two kinds of tubers. The central ones have growth buds; these I divide for next year's plants and to give away. The outer ones are shaped like sweet potatoes and are the ones to eat (though the inner ones are also edible). I've had no problem with invasiveness.

In parts of Mexico the plant is called "camote blanco," which means "white sweet potato." Also called Bolivian Sun Root; Pam Pierce has a writeup in her book _Bay Area Gardening_.

Positive YaraRoswellGA On Apr 16, 2011, YaraRoswellGA from Roswell, GA wrote:

Got a plant from Nichols garden spring 2010, grew a beautiful 2ft tall plant, and the tubers were so delicious! I had it on full sun, with late afternoon shade, I am in Atlanta area, zone 7. Plant really took off in the fall. A mix of carrot and apple taste, peeled and sliced eaten raw. Overwintered the main root on a pot in the sunroom ( gets to ~20F), came back with lots of "babies" and a cutting that I tried also rooted. Definitely planting again this year. Pretty enough for the front yard :-)

Neutral i_garden On Jan 17, 2011, i_garden from San Jose, CA wrote:

Great idea.... but we don't appear to have enough heat to grow these in San Jose, CA.... We didn't give it full sun....Many people in the bay area are having success in the San Francisco Bay area if they plant these in Sunny locations.

Also, regarding taste, we like Jerusalem Artichokes better. The lone thin tuber the plant did produce tasted like pine sap.

Neutral ChiTown On Dec 30, 2005, ChiTown from Chicago, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Reply to Michael (ClimbTheMtns): The 2006 Seeds of Change catalog lists Yacon as a new offering this year. Their "eNewsletter #40" at has quite a detailed and enthusiastice writeup. What they have to say is based on their experience growing it " for the last few years from Maine to New Mexico and Oregon", which says something about where it can be grown. I, for one, will be trying to grow a couple of plants here in Chicago this Spring.

Neutral ClimbTheMtns On Oct 25, 2005, ClimbTheMtns from Walnut Creek, CA wrote:

I'm trying to find a source to buy Yacon.
If anyone has a link please let us know here.


Positive chris561 On Jan 23, 2005, chris561 from Scottsville, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Out of curiosity I grew this crop from a bought plant in partial sunshine. I t did not bloom. I t produced ca. 4lb of dahlia-like, elongated tubers from 1 plant. I harvested them a little late after a hard frost and some cracked and turned black. We peeled and sliced them, fried them briefly with onions in butter and then cooked them in the pressure cooker like potatoes or Jerusalem artichokes. They were very tasty.

Positive givbing On Apr 26, 2004, givbing from Claveria, Misamis Or.
Philippines wrote:

I am yacon lecturer in selling our cooperative's main products, this Doalnara Yacon Tuber.
By researching I know Yacon originated in Peru, in Ecuador, South America and it has a real volume of production in such place. However, in the Philippine Doalnara Yacon Plantation, I can say, the tuber seemed to find a real home. Due to the fact that the soil is 100% organic, and the people cultivating are also organic. Funny, but what I mean, Philippine Doalnara Yacon is a real gift fruit and it does naturally heals these diseases: diabetics, hypertension, kidney diseases, constipation, insomnia. Some testimonial highlights about yacon are: it can even heal mosquito bites, dog bites, open wound, inflammation, bee sting, etc.
The cooperative is on global campaign for global restoration, which includes the restoration of the mentality, body and the environment. Practicing raw diet, indeed all products are chemical-free and 100% for the consumption is direct from the garden. Doalnara Yacon grow bigger (some 2 kilos per tuber) than other countries' yacon, and far medicinal, I can say.
Currently, we are exporting yacon in Japan and found out that for all the 61 suppliers of yacon in Japan, the Philippine Doalnara Yacon Tuber is indeed 100% yacon. Why? Because the farmers are practicing raw diet and the direct consumer of this yacon tuber, sure enough, chemical-free and far medicinal tuber.

Positive wudhi On Sep 29, 2002, wudhi wrote:

In many respects similar in habit to Jerusalem artichokes. Anything left in the ground with a shoot on it will likely grow a new plant, but not superinvasive. South American origin. Small orange daisy flower. Large untidy plant, dying off in late autumn. Harvest tubers mid-late winter as you need them. Sweetness increases if they are left in the sun for several days, though slugs and snails make a meal of them if you aren't watchful. The tubers are up to 200mm (8") long and up to 75mm (3") across. I peel them and slice them into a salad, where they are slightly sweet, and textured somewhere between a potato and a crisp apple. They will absorb flavours from any herbs in the salad, such as coriander, fennel, etc. My German neighbour slices them into his muesli in the morning for breakfast, and they pick up a litle of the ground ginger and cinnamon in his cereal. The sugar present, inulin, contributes no calories as we do not digest it. Grown commercially on small scale in Northern New Zealand. Sweetness can vary from one source to another, though fairly consistent from same rootstock.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Congress, Arizona
Berkeley, California
Ceres, California
Davis, California
El Sobrante, California
San Francisco, California
Gainesville, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Roswell, Georgia
Prospect, Kentucky
Clemmons, North Carolina
Cottage Grove, Oregon
Scottsville, Virginia
Renton, Washington

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