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The oldest potatoes in Europe are grown in Tenerife

En las Islas Canarias crecen las últimas herederas directas de las papas traídas de América por los españoles y las únicas que sobreviven en el viejo mundo.  Una cosecha de algunas azucenas negras. (Cortesía: El País)

These potatoes have evocative names, like 'black lily' and stand out for their sweet flavor. (Courtesy: El Pais)

May 15, 2019
The last direct descendants in Europe of the potatoes brought directly from America by the conquistadors are grown in the Canaries. These potatoes have evocative names, like 'black lily' and stand out for their sweet flavor.

They are grown in Tenerife, where they are considered a delicacy. Some of these potatoes are also grown on nearby islands, such as La Palma or El Hierro, but most of the productions are in Tenerife, and particularly in the orchards of Icod el Alto.

The oldest planting of this variety in the Canary Islands goes back to the year 1622, when they were brought to Europe by Juan Bautista de Castro from Peru.

The producers of old potatoes have joined in the Papa Bonita Growers Association. They make crop cycles, in which the lily potatoes are interspersed between wheat and lupine, on stepped terraced surfaces in the manner of the Incas on the mountainside, as they were originally cultivated in the Andes.

People in the Canary Islands speak more and more of pretty potatoes, turrets, red, egg yolk, or borrallas potatos; common names that define the characteristics of each of these products. They are all protected by the Designation of Origin Old Potatoes of the Canary Islands (Papas Antiguas de Canarias), something that no Andean potato can boast about.

A few years ago, the sector declared it was affected by a plague of Guatemalan moths, for which there is no known treatment, so the sale of potatoes has been prohibited in any market, both Spanish and international.

Only the local market remains, but prices have dropped to 5 euro per kilo. In any case, it is still ten times more than what was paid for its American predecessors.