Scientific Name: Canna indica
Synonyms: Canna coccinea, C. edulis
Common Names: Indian Shot, Edible Canna, Wild Canna, African Arrowroot, Ali'ipoe, Li'ipoe, Poloka
Growth Habit: Herb/Forb
Hawaii Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized ornamental garden plant, starch crop, and seed jewelry plant is native to the tropical Americas.
Flower Color: Red, Orange, Yellow
Height: To 5 feet (1.5 m) tall
Description: The flowers are enclosed in small, whitish green, membranous bracts and have 3 petals and 2 or 3 staminodes (petal-like stamens). The petals and staminodes are typically spotted with red. The lip-like lowest staminode (the labellum) is narrow and gracefully recurved. The flowers are followed by egg-shaped, 3-valved, minutely warty seed capsules containing very hard, round, dark brown to black, shot-like seeds. The leaves are green, hairless, alternate, spirally arranged, oblong to narrowly egg-shaped, and up to 2 feet (60 cm) long. The stems emerge from underground tuberous rhizomes and are unbranched.
The dark, shiny seeds can be drilled and used as beads in seed jewelry or strung into leis. The seeds are also used in hula rattles. Cultivated varieties have much larger and showier flowers than do the wild-types.
Here in Hawaii, Indian Shot grows in disturbed wet to mesic (moderately wet) forests at low elevations.
Edible – The starchy tuberous rhizomes are edible if cooked. Like arrowroot starch, the powdered tubers can be used to thicken sauces and improve the texture of some prepared foods.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Family: Cannaceae – Canna family
Genus: Canna L. – canna
Species: Canna indica L. – Indian shot
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