Cassava is a staple in Africa that contains toxic concentrations of cyanogenic glycosides when improperly processed. Occasionally, outbreaks of cyanide poisoning occur following the consumption of bitter cassava, particularly during periods of drought. 1
The distribution of cyanogenic glycosides is widespread throughout the plant kingdom, occurring in at least 2500 plants species, primarily in the Compositae, Fabaceae, Linaceae, and Rosaceae families. 2 Of these plants, clinically important human toxicity probably occurs only following the ingestion of cassava. Prunasin occurs in at least 6 plant families (Myoporaceae, Myrtaceae, Polypodiaceae, Rosaceae, Saxifragaceae, Scrophulariaceae).
Common Name: CassavaScientific Name: Manihot esculenta CrantzBotanical Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge)Physical Description: Cassava is a perennial, woody shrub with large, brown, tapered tubers that are staples in many poor countries. This shrub or small tree reaches about 1.25-5 m (4-16 ft) in height. The leaves are glabrous and deeply parted with spatulate to linear-lanceolate acuminate lobes up to 15 cm (6 in.) long. The flowers form panicles.Distribution and Ecology: This plant is a native species of Central and South America that was spread by 17th century explorers to Africa and later to the Indian subcontinent. Cassava is widely cultivated in subtropical and tropical areas for