Tapioca root is the underground portion of the Cassava plant. The tropical bush-like plant has edible palm-like leaves at the end of long reddish colored stems. The plant branches irregularly and can grow to the size of a small tree if allowed. The large tapered Tapioca roots are similar in size and shape to a sweet potato. The tuber has an inedible shiny brown skin with rough patches and faint growth rings ascending down to the tip. The starchy flesh of the Tapioca root is a light white or cream color and has a grainy texture similar to potatoes with a mild, sweet flavor.
Tapioca root is soaked in water and often repeatedly washed prior to its use to get rid of the saponins.