Ipomoea leptophylla Torr., is one of the most exciting plants I have ever researched. It produces a root so enormous, it is nicknamed “man root.” Yes, it’s root can weigh as much as a person, its flowers are striking, and there is mystery involving its palatability as a food (SEE: A Culinary Controversy).
THIS is why I love ethnobotany and adore ambiguity in the record; ambiguity is just another word for learn. You know what this means, don’t you? Traveler, we have to leave our books behind this summer, hop in a Jeep, and find this plant.
*The narrator tears off his literary shirt and howls like a wild animal
Of course, we will be doing this in an ecologically responsible way; first we will find a park ranger and secure permission to gather a few seeds to grow in our back yard. There is no way that we’ll be pick-axing a five-foot person-sized root from the ground and gnawing on the side of it.
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By: Kevin Healey
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For my beautiful wife and son, as always.