Tapioca () is a starch extracted from cassava root (Manihot esculenta). This species is native to the North Region of Brazil, but spread throughout the South American continent. The plant was carried by Portuguese and Spanish explorers to most of the West Indies, and continents of Africa and Asia, including the Philippines and Taiwan. It is now cultivated worldwide. A staple food in many world regions, tapioca is used as a thickening agent in various foods. The Uhrobo and Benin tribes of Nigeria cook starch extracted from cassava with palm oil into a glutinous meal called “starch.” This is eaten with “pepper soup.”