Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) is a typical tuber of the Andean region of South America. It can be found for example in Perù, in Bolivia, where it is called Isaño, and In Ecuador. Its cultivation in Ecuador is mostly in the central provinces of Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Bolívar. There are different varieties of mashua, but their main feature is the variation in the skin color, ranging from pale yellow to a reddish color; there are even varieties with black or intense purple tubers. Mashua is usually harvested between 6 – 8 months after planting and the tubers produced vary in size from 5 – 15 cm long. It is most productive at heights ranging from 2400 to 4300 m above sea level. Generally, farmers consider it as a high yielding plant. Mashua can be consumed fresh or after being dried in the sun. Indigenous people call this dried preparation of mashua chuna and habitually leave the tubers exposed to the sun for a couple of days to concentrate their sugars and give a sweeter taste, as, if eaten fresh, the tuber can often leave bitter and even spicy notes. The tubers have a particular consistency, with a crispy crust and tender center, though they become softer in general over time. Apart from the tubers, people also usually eat the flowers that this plant produces, typically steamed, in soups or in salad. Mashua have a characteristic taste and smell. When cooked, they tend to smell sweet, but have traces of spiciness in their flavor. They are not only a source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber, but are also used for medicinal purposes. Mashua is often taken as an infusion for problems of the urinary tract and kidneys, prostate inflammation in men, and is also credited with treating anemia. Additionally it provides moderate amounts of vitamin C, minerals and carotenes. It is believed that this plant was cultivated before the pre-Hispanic era in the South American Andes since traces of pottery with images of what seems be the mashua have been found. It is found in the Andean region in both Ecuador and Bolivia. It is known that the Incas ate this much food as is usually thought of as a anti-aphrodisiac because it decreases the amount of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone in the blood, which lowers sexual libido, thus making it part of the diet of the Inca warriors, eaten, as the stories say, in order to avoid thinking about their women. Mashua is mostly cultivated by native people of the area, and mainly just for household consumption. Despite its unique taste and culinary versatility, striking visual characteristics and medicinal properties, there is little demand on the market, because unfortunately it is seen as a food of the lower classes and there has not been much education or promotion of its many uses. It can occasionally be found in local markets, often sold with herbs and natural medicines. Among many consumers, though, it is commonly confused with oca, a tuber that is visually similar but with a longer length and a paler yellow color.