Cassava starch

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Cassava roots


A beady starch obtained from the tuberous roots of the cassava plant, Manihot esculenta, native to tropical America. The roots are leached then dried and ground. Cassava, or tapioca, starch has irregularly shaped kernels. It is composed of 20% amylose. Tapioca starch is the predominant starch used in Latin America. When heated with water, tapioca forms a thick stringy solution that gets thinner with heating time. It thickens only slightly on cooling to forms a translucent gel. Tapioca is used for laundry starch, cooking and as an adhesive for stamps, envelopes, labels and plywood.

Cassava starch in bowl

Synonyms and Related Terms

tapioca; Manihot esculenta (cassava or tapioca); Manihot duleis; almidón de tapioca (Esp.); manioc; manihot; mandioca; foufou; Brazilian arrowroot


  • Susceptible to biodeterioration.
  • Dried films become brittle with age.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Small, oval granules with centrally located dark mark (hilum).
  • Granule size = 5 - 35 micrometers.
  • Gelatinization temperature = 49 - 70 C.
  • Reacts with a iodine/potassium iodide solution to give a positive purple color

Resources and Citations

  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 766
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Rosalie Rosso King, Textile Identification, Conservation, and Preservation, Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ, 1985
  • Irving Skeist, Handbook of Adhesives, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, 1977
  • Wikipedia: Cassava. Accessed Oct. 30, 2004