Abstract Cassava, Manihot esculenta Crantz subsp. Esculenta was a major food crop across Asia and Africa. The crop was a highly heterozygous perennial woody shrub cultivated from stem cuttings. Cassava improvement for starchy tuberous roots requires about 5–6 years from F 1 hybrid seed germination to the selection of superior genotypes. Early selection with DNA markers could increase the number of elite genotypes identified. The aim here was to identify DNA markers associated with loci underlying plant and first branch height. In this study, 640 SSR primer pairs were used to screen for polymorphisms in two parental lines, cv. ‘Huaybong60’ (female) and cv. ‘Hanatee’ (male). There were 235 informative polymorphic markers used to genotype 100 individuals of an F 1 mapping population. Genotype data was analyzed by JoinMap ® version 3.0 software in order to construct a genetic linkage map. The map consisted of 156 linked SSR markers distributed across 25 linkage groups. The total length of the map was 845.2 cM (Kosambi cM) with 6.2 loci per linkage group, and an average distance between markers of 7.9 cM. Plant and first branch height of stem cuttings from the F 1 mapping population were collected from individual lines planted in 2007–2009. Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) underlying these traits were identified using mapQTL ®/version 4.0. A total of seven QTL placed on four linkage groups were found for plant height. Of these, one major QTL was discovered on linkage group 2 near the marker SSRY155 with 17.9% of phenotypic variation explained (PVE). For first branch height, five QTL located on five linkage groups were identified. The two major QTL were located on linkage groups 2, and 20 at the loci SSRY323 and SSRY236 with 23.5% and 22.6% PVE, respectively. The QTL for plant and first branch height will serve as useful molecular markers in a cassava breeding program and may allow identification of the underlying genes in future.