The Solanaceae (potatoes and peppers)
The edible parts of the potato (Solanum tuberosum) are not roots, as often thought, but swollen underground stem tubers (stolons). These were first domesticated in Bolivia and Peru (as were tomatoes), high up in the Andes, by the Inca - and were brought to Europe by the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro in the 1530s. Some time later Sir Walter Raleigh (a native of East Devon) is said to have introduced potatoes to Ireland – possibly having some planted in his estates in Cork or Kerry. Legend has it that his cook, not knowing what to do with the strange vegetable, served up the poisonous leaves (unaware of the tubers below ground). It is thought more likely however that potatoes were introduced to Ireland through contact with Spanish merchants.