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They belong to eight or nine species, depending on the taxonomic school.
Apart from the 5,000 cultivated varieties, there are about 200 wild species and subspecies, many of which can be cross-bred with cultivated varieties. There is one pentaploid cultivated species (with 60 chromosomes): S. There are two major subspecies of Solanum tuberosum: andigena, or Andean; and tuberosum, or Chilean.
Around 1845, the name transferred to the tuber itself.
The origin of the word "spud" has erroneously been attributed to an 18th-century activist group dedicated to keeping the potato out of Britain, calling itself The Society for the Prevention of Unwholesome Diet .
but later genetic testing of the wide variety of cultivars and wild species proved a single origin for potatoes in the area of present-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule complex), where they were domesticated approximately 7,000–10,000 years ago.
Over 99% of the presently cultivated potatoes worldwide descended from varieties that originated in the lowlands of south-central Chile, which have displaced formerly popular varieties from the Andes.
The Spanish Royal Academy says the Spanish word is a hybrid of the Taíno batata (sweet potato) and the Quechua papa (potato).
The name originally referred to the sweet potato although the two plants are not closely related.
After flowering, potato plants produce small green fruits that resemble green cherry tomatoes, each containing about 300 seeds.
Potatoes yield abundantly with little effort, and adapt readily to diverse climates as long as the climate is cool and moist enough for the plants to gather sufficient water from the soil to form the starchy tubers.
Potatoes do not keep very well in storage and are vulnerable to molds that feed on the stored tubers and quickly turn them rotten, whereas crops such as grain can be stored for several years with a low risk of rot.
In the Andes, where the species is indigenous, some other closely related species are cultivated.
Potatoes were introduced to Europe in the second half of the 16th century by the Spanish.