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Study on Morphological Characters of Four Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) Varieties as Cultivated in Fafen District, Ethiopian Somali Regional State
Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is a multifunctional shrub such as food, feed, and raw materials in industries. There are many studies but limited on their morphological characters in Ethiopia. In particular, as cassava is newly introduced into Ethiopian Somali Region, each variety is not well known by their morphological appearance. Morphological characters have not yet been documented for underused varieties, but important to choose varieties for breeding and conservation. Therefore, the aim of this study is to study of morphological characters of cassava varieties. To do so, four cassava varieties (kello, Qulle, Hawasa-4 and Chichu) were obtained from Hawasa Agricultural Research Center and planted in fafen district. Thirty centimeter long stakes were planted with 1m x 1m intra and inter row spacing with Randomized Complete Block Design. There were four rows, five plants per row and six plants per plot and used to collect qualitative and quantitative data at 3rd, 6th and 9th months after planting. According to the analyzed data, results revealed that all of the varieties have stipules and fully prominent leaf scars. Almost the same shape of the central leaflet, apical leaf color and trichotomous branching habit were observed in three of the varieties whereas color of leaf vein, petiole, matured leaf and stem exterior were different across varieties. Not only qualitative traits but also quantitative traits (size of leaf scars, distance between foliar scars, a distance of first branching, the height of plant and number of secondary branches) show highly significant variation among cassava varieties. In general, cassava varieties had different characters with most morphological traits and similar with some of them. Therefore, aerial morphological traits are used to distinguish between cassava varieties and are the first step in molecular studies. However, morphological traits are changing with the changing environment. Therefore, gene-based diagnosis should be conducted to ensure their relations.