Lepidium meyenii

Lepidium meyenii
Scientific classification
Species:L. meyenii
Binomial name
Lepidium meyenii

Lepidium meyenii or maca is an herbaceous biennial plant or annual plant (some sources say a perennial plant) native to the high Andes of Bolivia and Peru. It is grown for its fleshy hypocotyl (actually a fused hypocotyl and taproot), which is used as a root vegetable and a medicinal herb. Its Spanish and Quechua names include maca-maca, maino, ayak chichira, and ayak willku.

Botanical characteristics

The growth habit, size, and proportions of the maca are roughly similar to those of the radish and the turnip, to which it is related. The stem is short and lies along the ground, with only the tips curling up. The frilly leaves are born in a rosette at the soil surface, and are continuously renewed from the center as the outer leaves die. The off-white, self-fertile flowers are born on a central raceme, and are followed by 4-5 mm siliculate fruits, each containing two small (2-2.5 mm) reddish-gray ovoid seeds. The seeds, which are the plant's only means of reproduction, germinate within five days, given good conditions, and have no dormancy.

Maca is the only member of its genus with a fleshy hypocotyl, which is fused with the taproot to form a radish- or inverted-pear-shaped body roughly 10-15 cm long and 3-5 cm wide.

Maca is traditionally grown at altitudes of approximately 3,750-4,350 m (12,500-14,500 ft). It grows well only in very cold climates with relatively poor soil. Although it has been cultivated outside the Andes it is not yet clear that it has the same constituents or potency when this is done. Hypocotyls do not form in greenhouses or in warm climates.

For approximately 2000 years maca has been an important traditional food and medicinal plant in its growing region. It is regarded as a highly nutritious food and as a medicine that enhances strength and endurance and also acts as an aphrodisiac. During Spanish colonization maca was used as currency. [1][2]


In addition to sugars and proteins, maca contains uridine, malic acid and its benzoyl derivative, and the glucosinolates, glucotropaeolin and m-methoxyglucotropaeolin. The methanol extract of maca tuber also contained (1R,3S)-1-methyltetrahydro--carboline-3-carboxylic acid, a molecule which is reported to exert many activities on the central nervous system.[3] The nutritional value of dried maca root is high, similar to cereal grains such as rice and wheat. It contains 60% carbohydrates, 10% protein, 8.5% dietary fiber, and 2.2% fats. Maca is rich in essential minerals, especially selenium, calcium, magnesium, and iron, and includes fatty acids including linolenic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acids, and 19 amino acids, as well as polysaccharides.[4] Maca's reported beneficial effects for sexual function could be due to its high concentration of proteins and vital nutrients,[5], though maca contains a chemical called p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, which reputedly has aphrodisiac properties.[6]

Uses and preparation

Small-scale clinical trials performed in men have shown that maca extracts can heighten libido and improve semen quality,[7][8] though no studies have been performed on men with sexual dysfunction or infertility. Maca has not been shown to affect sex hormone levels in humans[9] In addition, maca has been shown to increase mating behavior in male mice and rats.[10]

In Peru, maca is prepared and consumed in several ways. The hypocotyl can be roasted in a pit (called matia). The root can also be mashed and boiled to produce a sweet, thick liquid, dried and mixed with milk to form a porridge or with other vegetables or grains to produce a flour that can be used in baking. If fermented, a weak beer called chicha de maca can be produced. The leaves can also be prepared raw in salads or cooked much like Lepidium sativum and Lepidium campestre, to which it is genetically closely related.<ref name = "ptnsa" >Maca Root. Retrieved on 2007-05-24.

Health effects

Maca is consumed as food for humans and livestock, suggesting any risks from consumption is rather minimal. However, maca does contain glucosinolates, which can cause goitres when high consumption is combined with a diet low in iodine. Though this is common in other foods with high levels of glucosinolate, it is uncertain if maca consumption can cause or worsen a goitre.[11] Maca has also been shown to reduce enlarged prostate glands in rats[12][13] though its effects on humans are unknown.


1. ^ Valentova, K.; Ulrichova J. (2003). "Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii - prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases". Biomedical papers of the Medical Faculty of the University Palackı, Olomouc, Czechoslovakia 147 (2): 119–30. PMID 15037892. 
2. ^ Chacón de Popovici G. La importancia de Lepidium peruvianum (“Maca”) en la alimentacion y salud del ser humano y animal 2,000 anos antes y desputes del Cristo y en el siglo XXI. Lima: Servicios Gráficos “ROMERO”, 1997.
3. ^ Piacente, Sonia; Carbone, V., Plaza, A., Zampelli, A. & Pizza, C. (2002). "Investigation of the Tuber Constituents of Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.)". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 50 (20): 5621-5625. PMID 12236688. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. 
4. ^ Muhammad, I; Zhao J., Dunbar D.C. & Khan I.A. (2002). "Constituents of Lepidium meyenii 'maca'". Phytochemistry 59 (1): 105-110. PMID 11754952. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. 
5. ^ Chacón de Popovici, G. (1997). La importancia de Lepidium peruvianum ("Maca") en la alimentacion y salud del ser humano y animal 2,000 anos antes y desputes del Cristo y en el siglo XXI. Lima: Servicios Gráficos "ROMERO". 
6. ^ Taylor, Leslie (2005). The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs. Garden City Park, New York: Square One Publishers Inc.. ISBN 0-7570-0144-0. 
7. ^ Gonzales, GF.; Cordova A., Vega K., Chung A., Villena A., Gonez C. & Castillo S. (2002). "Effect of Lepidium meyenii (maca) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men". Andrologia 34: 367–72. PMID 12472620. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. 
8. ^ Gonzales, GF; Cordova A., Gonzales C., Chung A., Vega K. & Villena A. (2001). "Lepidium meyenii (maca) improved semen parameters in adult men". Asian Journal of Andrology 3 (4): 301–3. PMID 11753476. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. 
9. ^ Gonzales, GF.; Cordova A., Vega K., Chung A., Villena A. & Gonez C. (2003). "Effect of Lepidium meyenii (maca), a root with aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties, on serum reproductive hormone levels in adult healthy men". The Journal of Endocrinology 176 (1): 163–8. PMID 12525260. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. 
10. ^ Zheng, BL.; He, K., Kim, CH., Rogers, L., Shao, Y., Huang, ZY., Lu, Y., Yan, SJ., Qien, LC. & Zheng, QY. (2000). "Effect of a lipidic extract from Lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats". Urology 55 (4): 598-602. PMID 10736519. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. 
11. ^ Maca. Retrieved on 2007-05-24.
12. ^ Gonzales, GF.; Miranda S., Nieto J., Fernandez G., Yucra S., Rubio J., Yi P. & Gasco M. (2005). "Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats". Reproductive biology and endocrinology 20 (3): 5. PMID 15661081. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. 
13. ^ Gasco, M.; Villegas L., Yucra S., Rubio J. & Gonzales GF. (2007). "Dose-response effect of Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on benign prostatic hyperplasia induced by testosterone enanthate". Phytomedicine. PMID 17289361. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. 
  • Brinkmann, Josef, and Smith, Ed. Photoessay. "Maca Culture of the Jenin Plateau." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Volume 10, Number 3, 2004.
  • Smith E. "Maca root: Modern rediscovery of an ancient Andean fertility food." J Amer Herbalists Guild. 2003;4(2):15–21.

External Links

MACA or maca can mean:
  • Maca (plant)
  • Mongol-American Cultural Association
  • Multiple Access with Collision Avoidance
  • Military Aid to the Civil Authorities
  • Member Australian Counselling Association
  • Most Advanced Cryptografic Algorithm

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Scientific classification or biological classification is a method by which biologists group and categorize species of organisms. Scientific classification also can be called scientific taxonomy, but should be distinguished from folk taxonomy, which lacks scientific basis.
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Haeckel, 1866[1]


Green algae
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Land plants (embryophytes)
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Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Liliopsida - Monocots

The flowering plants or angiosperms are the most widespread group of land plants. The flowering plants and the gymnosperms comprise the two extant groups of seed plants.
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Dicotyledons, or "dicots", is a name for a group of flowering plants whose seed typically contains two embryonic leaves or cotyledons.
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The Brassicales are an order of flowering plants, belonging to the eurosids II group of dicotyledons under the APG II system.
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Brassicaceae or Cruciferae, also known as the crucifers, the mustard family or cabbage family is a family of flowering plants (Angiospermae).
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Lepidium, commonly known as the peppergrasses or pepperworts, is a genus of plants in the mustard family Brassicaceae. It includes about 175 species found worldwide, including cress and pepperweed.
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binomial nomenclature is the formal system of naming species. The system is also called binominal nomenclature (particularly in zoological circles), binary nomenclature (particularly in botanical circles), or the binomial classification system.
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A herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die at the end of the growing season to the soil level. A herbaceous plant may be annual, biennial or perennial.

Herbaceous perennial plants have stems that die at the end of the growing season.
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biennial plant is a flowering plant that takes two years to complete its lifecycle. In the first year the plant grows leaves, stems, and roots (vegetative structures), then it enters a period of dormancy over the colder months.
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annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers and dies in one year. True annuals will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed. Some seedless plants can also be considered annuals even though they do not flower.
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Andes (Quechua: Anti(s/kuna))

The Andes between Chile and Argentina

Countries |
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"¡La unión es la fuerza!"   (Spanish)
"Unity is strength!"
Bolivianos, el hado propicio
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Somos libres, seámoslo siempre   (Spanish)
"We are free, may we always be so"
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Hypocotyl is a botanical term for a part of a germinating seedling of a seed plant. As the plant embryo grows at germination, it sends out a shoot called a radicle that becomes the primary root and penetrates down into the soil.
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taproot is a straight tapering root that grows vertically down. It forms a center from which other roots sprout.

Plants with taproots are difficult to transplant. The taproot is why dandelions are hard to uproot — the top is pulled, but the long taproot stays in the
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Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables.[1] Other underground plants are often, erroneously, called root vegetables. Root vegetables include both true roots such as tuberous roots and taproots, but exclude non-roots such as tubers, rhizomes, corms, and bulbs.
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 Spanish, Castilian
Writing system: Latin (Spanish variant)
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2:
ISO 639-3: —

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Writing system: Latin alphabet 
Official status
Official language of: Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.
Regulated by: none
Language codes
ISO 639-1: qu
ISO 639-2: que
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R. sativus

Binomial name
Raphanus sativus

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B. r. rapa

Trinomial name
Brassica rapa rapa

For similar vegetables also called "turnip", see Turnip (disambiguation).
The turnip (Brassica rapa var.
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rosette is a circular arrangement of the leaves, with all the leaves at a single height. Often, perennial plants whose foliage dies and the remaining vegetation protects the plant. Internodes are often shortened getting the leaves closer together, as in lettuce and dandelion.
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raceme is a type of inflorescence that is unbranched and indeterminate and bears pedicellate flowers — flowers having short floral stalks called pedicels — along the axis. In botany, axis means a shoot, in this case one bearing the flowers.
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A silique is a fruit (seed pod) of 2 fused carpels that separate when ripe, leaving a peristant partition, with the length being more than twice the width. This classification includes many members of the Brassicaceae family, but some members, such as Capsella bursa-pastroris L.
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fruit has different meanings depending on context. In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary—together with seeds—of a flowering plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and surrounding tissues.
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Germination is the process where growth emerges from a period of dormancy. The most common example of germination is the sprouting of a seedling from a seed of an angiosperm or gymnosperm.
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