If not, what would be a more appropriate word?

Those potatoes had been potatoes eaten by worms. Now, they were nothing more than lumps of flesh with nothing inside.

  • 8
    The flesh is what inside the skin (in fruits but normally tubers) so "flesh with nothing inside" doesn't really make sense.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 9:19
  • also, "they are" -> "they were" Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 12:24
  • @neeraj2608 Why? Doesn't the sentence say "Now"? Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 13:38
  • 1
    @ArlaudPierre: It also says had been rather than have been, indicating the past. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 17:23
  • @ArlaudPierre, like TimLymington says, the first sentence sets the context in the past. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 19:37

5 Answers 5


For your case, I think you mean what is called the "skin" of the potato, not the flesh. The skin is the thin outer layer of the potato, which is what would remain if worms had eaten the inside.

The word flesh can be used to mean some part of a plant which is fleshy. However, fleshy things are things which are somewhat like meat in texture, not things which are somewhat like skin. It refers principally to their texture not taste or location. An example would be the centre of some stems in plants which can contain material which is a tough mass, or the contents of some fruits.

  • Good. Explaining the different, conflicting, connotations of 'flesh' (outer and inner). Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 9:31
  • How would you describe the stuff inside the skin of the potato? Would you call it flesh? I think I might call the insides of a jackfruit flesh, but not those of a potato. Then what would the word be?
    – Tragicomic
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 9:41
  • If someone were to say "flesh of the potato" I would understand it to be the main body, but think it was an odd usage. I would probably call it the "pulp" or "mass" of the potato or use some construction to mean the potato /per se/, eg "There was no actual potato left, only the skin". I think for something to be flesh it needs to have a certain integrity (non-crumbliness) or umami taste, which potatoes lack.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 9:45
  • I agree. Mass sounds more appropriate than flesh for a potato.
    – Tragicomic
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 9:51
  • 2
    Re "pulp" or "mass", also see Mari-Lou A's reply.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 11:18

Yes, you can call the inside of potatoes flesh. It is the technical term used by potato farmers and also by nutrition experts.

Only about 20% of the potato’s nutrition is found in the skin. In fact, most of the vitamin C and potassium are found in the potato’s flesh, but that good for-you fiber is found in the skin.

Usage: Fresh market potato with low to medium gravity that is great for baking, boiling, and processing. Tuber Appearance: Oblong with russet skin and golden flesh.

Please note that the terms, pulp and mass are not mentioned once in the Wikipedia article entitled, potato.

  • The example given by the questioner (with the worms) suggests that this is not how they are trying to use it, quite the opposite. "Those potatoes had been potatoes eaten by worms. Now, they are nothing more than lumps of flesh with nothing inside." doesn't make any sense unless the user is taking flesh as synonymous with skin, unless they have some very odd potatoes. There is good reason to make that mistake: flesh and skin are almost synonymous elsewhere.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 11:10
  • I take your point re pulp or mass, though. I'll edit my comment. I was really only replying to Tragicomic's question as to what I would call it and this isn't a forum, after all.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 11:18
  • @DanSheppard I believe that the OP phrase is poorly formulated, but how can the "skin" of potatoes be described as lumps? If the potatoes had been completely consumed by worms, then I would describe the tubers as being shrivelled or shrunken in appearance e.g. Now, they were nothing more than shrivelled/shrunken potatoes. OR Now, they were nothing more than skin.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 6:19

I guess you can:

Botany : The edible pulpy part of a fruit or vegetable: (halve the avocados and scrape out the flesh) flesh


Speaking as an American with no special expertise in botany or agriculture, I would understand that the "flesh" of a potato was the starch inside the skin, but it's a weird construction. Flesh of a fruit, like a peach, is a more common usage. See Josh's answer, which includes "pulpy" as part of the definition. Potatoes aren't pulpy.

The inside of a nut, that you can call "meat".


If you refer to the skin of the potato, it also makes good sense to refer to the "body" of the potato. Merriam-Webster defines "body" with the phrases:

"the main part of a plant or animal body ..." and "the organized physical substance of an animal or plant either living or dead"

So the worms ate the bodies of the potatoes and left the skins.

  • Hi Jack, welcome to EL&U. This is a good start, but what's missing is the connection between body and flesh, since the question is about the latter word. Can you edit your answer to explicitly respond to "Can I use the word 'flesh' when referring to plants/crops?" (presumably yes), add the missing element (i.e. your main argument), and preferably add a hyperlink to the MW definition? For further guidance, see How to Answer and take the EL&U Tour. :-) Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 22:49

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