Tapioca is a starch extracted from the root of the plant species Manihot esculenta. This species, native to the Amazon (e.g Brazil), but is now cultivated worldwide and has many names, including cassava, bitter-cassava, manioc, "mandioca", "aipim", "macaxeira", "manioca", "boba", "yuca" (not to be confused with yucca), "Sagudana" (literally, Sagu drops)--with local variation of "Sabudana"--and "kappa". Tapioca is a staple food in some regions and is used worldwide as a thickening agent, principally in foods. Tapioca is gluten free, and nearly protein free. The commercial form of tapioca most familiar to many people is pearl tapioca.