Manihot esculenta

scientific name: 
Manihot esculenta Crantz
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Herb or semiwoody monecousshrub, 1-3 m high, with large, tuberous roots.  Leaves alternate, spirally arranged, palmately 3-9 lobed, obovate-lanceolate, 4-20 cm x 1-6 cm, glabrous above and glaucous below, petiole 5-30 cm; inflorescence terminal cymose panicles; female flowers on pedicels 7-12 mm long, calyx lobe 7.5 – 10 mm long, male flowers on pedicels 4-6 mm long, calyx lobes 2-5 mm long, female flowers lower than the male flowers; fruit a dehiscent, globose capsule, 1.5 cm in long; seeds gray mottled,ellipsoid, ca.12 mm long.





leaf, mashed, applied locally1

The cooked tuber of Manihot esculenta is widely used as a vegetable and a source of starch.

For fungal growth (mycosis between fingers or toes) and headache:

Wash leaf thoroughly, crush, and apply 5-10 grams on the affected area of the skin twice a day.

According to published and other information:

Use for headache and dermal fungal growths such as athlete's foot (mycosis between fingers or toes) is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

For topical application against fungal growth (mycosis between fingers or toes), due care should be taken in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

The leaf can cause hypersensitivity reactions.

Manihot esculentashould not be ingested by persons with thyroid disorders4.

TRAMIL Research20

The fresh minced root, was applied in the form of a compress on the skin (0.6 g plant material on an area of approximately 6 cm2) of a male New Zealand rabbit. After 4 hours the compress was removed and the possible occurrence of erythema and edema observed after 24, 48 and 72 hours. No clinical effect was found and the root may therefore be classified as non-irritant.

Trabajo TRAMIL21 (will be translated in 3rd Ed.) El zumo liofilizado de hoja fresca machacada, concentración de 500 mg/mL de agua, vía tópica 4 horas diariamente durante 5 días consecutivos a 3 conejos New Zealand, 0.5 mL en un cuadrante de 5 cm2 con pelo cortado del lomo, control contralateral con agua, protocolo EPA870.2500, no provocó edema ni eritema durante el ensayo ni en los 11 días adicionales de observación.

There are no toxicity data available for the leaf in external application.

Consumption of the fresh whole plant is toxic for human17.

The b-glucosidase enzyme wich catalyzes the hydrolysis of the cyanogenetic glucosides in hydrocyanic acid, is destroyed by boiling18.

The decoction of the fresh leaf, administered orally at various dose levels, did not show general toxicity in human adult19.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in women during pregnancy or while breast feeding.

The leaf contains hydrocyanic acid (0.1-0.21 mg/g)5; organic acids: oxalic6, flavonoids: amentoflavone, podocarpus-flavone7, and quercetin derivatives8

The root has been extensively studied and contains, among other components, diterpenes9, coumarins, organic acids10, cyanogenic glucosides: linamarin9-11.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of leaf12: calories: 60; water: 81%; protein: 6.9%; fat: 1.3%; carbohydrate: 9.2%; fiber: 2.1%; ash: 1.6%; calcium: 144 mg; phosphorus: 68 mg; iron: 2.8 mg; sodium: 4 mg; potassium: 409 mg; carotene: 8280 µg; thiamine: 0.16 mg; riboflavin: 0.32 mg; niacin: 1.80 mg; ascorbic acid: 82 mg.

TRAMIL Research13

The fresh leaf juice (2 mg/mL) showed no activity against Bacillus subtilis ATCC6051, Staphyloccocus aureus, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, Mycobacterium smegmatis ATCC607, Trichophyton rubrum, Microsporum gypseum or Aspergillus flavus.

The aqueous extract from the dried aerial parts was active against Microsporum canis and inactive against M. fulvum, M. gypseum and Trichophyton gallinae14.

The ethyl acetate extract from the dried aerial parts (< 0.13 mg/mL) was fungicidal against Microsporum canis, M. fulvum, M gypseum and Trichophyton gallinae14. Both extracts (1 mg/disk) were inactive against Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae14.

The ethanolic extract of the leaf inhibited in vitro strains of Staphylococcus aureus (1mg/mL), of fungiMicrosporum canis, M. fulvum, M. gypseum and Trichophyton gallinae (0.13 mg/mL), andSindbisvirus (5.2 µg/mL)14.

The aqueous extract (0.18 µg/mL) was active in vitro againstCitomegalovirus14.

The fresh leaf inhibited protein synthesis in vitro, with a mean inhibiting concentration of MIC50 = 0.75 µg/mL15.

The aqueous extract from the dried root (100 mg/kg) showed anti-tumor activity in mice16.




1 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

2 LONGUEFOSSE JL, NOSSIN E, 1990-95 Enquête TRAMIL. Association pour la valorisation des plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe AVPMC, Fort de France, Martinique.

3 WHO, 1991 Guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines. WHO/TRM/91.4. Programme on Traditional Medicines, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

4 LINDNER E, 1995 Toxicología de los alimentos. 4ª ed. Madrid, España: Editorial Acribia S.A. p688.

5 ROSA DE BATTISTI C, TELES F, COELHO D, JOSE DA SILVEIRA A, BATISTA C, 1981 Determination of hydrogen cyanide toxicity and total soluble carbohydrates in cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz). Rev Ceres 28:521-525.

6 VALYASEVI A, DHANAMITTA S, 1974 Studies of bladder stone disease in Thailand. XVII. Effect of exogenous sources of oxalate on crystalluria. Amer J Clin Nutr 27(8):877-882.

7 KAMIL M, ILYAS M, RAHMAN W, OKIGAWA M, KAWANO N, 1994 Biflavones from Manihot utilissima. Phytochemistry 13(11):2619-2620.

8 SUBRAMANIAN S, NAGARAJAN S, SULOCHANA N, 1971 Flavonoids of some Euphorbiaceous plants. Phytochemistry 10:2548-2549.

9 SAKAI T, NAKAGAWA Y, 1988 Diterpenic stress metabolites from cassava roots. Phytochemistry 27(12):3769-3779.

10 LA LAGUNA F, 1993 Purification of fresh cassava root polyphenols by solid-phase extraction with Amberlite xad-8 resin. J Chromatogr A 657(2):445-449.

11 LYKKESFELDT J, MOLLER BL, 1994 Cyanogenic glucosides in cassava, Manihot esculenta Crantz. Acta Chem Scand 48(2):178-180.

12 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

13 CACERES A, 2000 Actividad antibiótica in vitro del zumo de hoja fresca deManihot esculenta. Informe TRAMIL. Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacia, Universidad de San Carlos USAC, Guatemala, Guatemala.

14 MACRAE WD, HUDSON JB, TOWERS GH, 1988 Studies on the pharmacological activity of Amazonian Euphorbiaceae. J Ethnopharmacol 22(2):143-172.

15 GASPERI-CAMPANI A, BARBIERI L, BATTELLI MG, STIRPE F, 1985 On the distribution of ribosome-inactivating proteins amongst plants. J Nat Prod 48(3):446-454.

16 ITOKAWA H, HIRAYAMA F, TSURUOKA S, MIZUNO K, TAKEYA K, NITTA A, 1990 Screening test for antitumor activity of crude drugs (III). Studies on antitumor activity of Indonesian medicinal plants. Shoyakugaku Zasshi 44(1):58-62.

17 FERNANDO R, 1988 Plant poisoning in Sri Lanka. Toxicon 26(1):20.

18 ALONSO J, 1998 Tratado de fitomedicina. Bases clínicas y farmacológicas. Buenos Aires, Argentina: ISIS ediciones SRL. p687.

19 MADUAGWU EN, UMOH IB, 1982 Detoxification of cassava leaves by simple traditional methods. Toxicol Lett 10(2-3):245-248.

20 LOPEZ M, MARTINEZ MJ, MOREJON Z, BOUCOURT E, FUENTES V, MORON F. 2005 Irritabilidad dérmica primaria de tubérculo fresco rayado de Manihot esculenta Crantz. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Medicina “Dr. Salvador Allende”, Cerro, C. Habana, Cuba.

21 PAZOS L, COTO T, GONZALEZ S, 2006 Irritabilidad dérmica, piel sana en conejos, de hoja machacada de Manihot esculenta. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, LEBi, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.