DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Flower of the potato, Solanum tuberosum. Potatoes are members of the Solanaceae, the family that includes important crop plants such as tomato, sweet and chilli peppers, and tobacco. All of these can propagate themselves by seed, and the (seed-containing) fruits of tomatoes and peppers are the food crop harvested from the plant. Potatoes are are only grown for seed by plant breeders. Farmers and gardeners harvest a different result of the plant's survival strategy, the tuber. The tuber grows from a rhizome (underground stem), and may persist underground over winter in climates where the top growth is killed by frost (such as in UK, Northern European, and the Northern USA ). In common with all seed plants, flowering and seed production introduces genetic variation, allowing the selection of new potato varieties. Plants grown from tubers are clones of the original.
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