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Cyanide content of cassava (Manihot esculenta, Euphorbiaceae) cultivars used by Tukanoan Indians in Northwest Amazonia

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Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a cyanide-containing food crop used by many indigenous peoples in Amazonia. Tukanoan Indians in Northwest Amazonia utilize both “bitter” and “sweet” cassava cultivars. Those classified as “bitter” are the dietary staple. Analysis of 13 commonly used “bitter” cultivars indicates that they are high in cyanide in comparison to values reportedin the literature. The Tukanoan practice of including the inner peel in the edible portion contributes to the high cyanide values found.


Contenido de Cianuro en Variedades de Yuca Utilizada por los Tukanos en el Noroeste Amazónico. Las raíces de la yuca (Manihot esculenta,) constituyen un importante alimento energetico para grupos indígenas del Amazonas. Los Tukanos del noroeste Amazonico cultivan variedades “dulces” y “amargas” de yuca; las “amargas” proporcionan la mayoría de la energía en la dieta. El análisis de 13 de las más comunes variedades “amargas” por ellos utilizadas presenta valores altos de cianuro en comparación con aquellos previamente registrados en la literatura especializada. La inclusión de la corteza en la parte comestible se relaciona con los altos valores de cianuro encontrados.

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Dufour, D.L. Cyanide content of cassava (Manihot esculenta, Euphorbiaceae) cultivars used by Tukanoan Indians in Northwest Amazonia. Econ Bot 42, 255–266 (1988).

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