Tuberous edible perennial plant (Manihot esculenta) of the spurge family, from the New World tropics. It is cultivated for its tuberous roots, from which cassava flour, breads, tapioca, a laundry starch, and an alcoholic beverage are derived. It has conspicuous, almost palmate (fan-shaped) leaves and fleshy roots. Different varieties range from low herbs through many-branched shrubs to slender, unbranched trees adapted to diverse habitats.
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