Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are large, sweet-tasting, starchy, tubers that grow under soil attached to a sprawling vine with heart-shaped leaves. While we eat them like potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), they are actually not a potato. Sweet potatoes are a member of the Convolvulaceae plant family and are more closely related to morning glories than potatoes. Potatoes are in the nightshade family, and are more closely related to eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers.
Sweet potatoes thrive in warm climates, and they continue to be a culturally significant food in the American South, where they have been grown by indigenous people, European colonists, and enslaved people, and farmers for hundreds of years.
Photo from the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, Pleasant Valley Farm, By Pattie Garrett