Sweet potatoes are such a great crop that I try to offer all varieties available in our nursery. I started planting the first ones around six months ago and started harvesting two months ago. I got a bit nervous about the fact that some varieties look very much the same. I tried to get some comparison done.
Generally, there are two main groups: one contains only one variety (at least in Australia) which is ‘ Beauregard’ or ‘Golden’, these are very sweet, have orange flesh and skin. All the others have a purple skin and white to purple flesh. They taste very different, much starchier and more like a taro.
“Northern Star”, ‘Purple’ and ‘White’ look very similar. ‘Northern star’ is bred for colder climate and for a shorter growing season to be harvested before the first frost. But ‘Purple’ and ‘White’ look so similar that they could be the same variety.
There are heart-shaped and palmate leaves and those varieties with heart-shaped leaves are better suited as ground covers.
The difference in size on the pictures is due to the difference in age – it does not mean that one variety produces bigger tubers than the other. Also some varieties grow in rather difficult spots, therefore some leaves look rather tired.
Beauregard or Golden
My plant is too young and I could not harvest any ‘Molokai Purple’ sweet potatoes. The skin is purple and the inside is dark purple, something to wait for! This is definitively a must-have variety.
Purple Raven is a variety bred to look pretty. The leaves are edible and healthy due to their colour. This is a great plant for the front yard. However, the leaf production of ‘Purple Raven’ is significantly less than of other varieties. The tubers are too small to use.
In total there are about 1000 varieties but only the few mentioned commonly available in Australia. I would be interested in having one of the yellow fleshed varieties! Maybe my cultivar names are not always correct, it used the name which was supplied when I originally purchased them.