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Indian Shot (Canna indica)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Indian Shot
Canna indica

The plant yields a fibre – from the stem? – it is a jute substitute[114]. A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making paper[189]. The leaves are harvested in late summer after the plant has flowered, they are scraped to remove the outer skin and are then soaked in water for 2 hours prior to cooking. The fibres are cooked for 24 hours with lye and then beaten in a blender. They make a light tan brown paper[189].

A purple dye is obtained from the seed[114].

Smoke from the burning leaves is said to be insecticidal[218].

  • Medicinal Use

    The plant is used in the treatment of women’s complaints[218].

    A decoction of the root with fermented rice is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea and amenorrhoea[218].

    The plant is also considered to be demulcent, diaphoretic and diuretic[218].

  • Edible Use

    Root – cooked. The source of ‘canna starch’, used as an arrowroot[97, 177]. The arrowroot is obtained by rasping the root to a pulp, then washing and straining to get rid of the fibres[2]. The very young tubers are eaten cooked, they are sweet but fibrousy[97, K]. Roots contain about 25% starch[61].

    There is one report that this plant has an edible fruit[177] but this is somewhat dubious, the fruit is a dry capsule containing the very hard seeds[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water and sow February/March in a warm greenhouse at 20¡c[1, 138]. Plant the seeds 2 – 5cm deep in individual pots[1]. Scarifying the seed can speed germination, especially if the seed has not swollen after being soaked[124, K]. The seed usually germinates in 3 – 9 weeks[138]. Grow the plants on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division of the root clump as the plant comes into growth in the spring. Each portion must have at least one growing point. Pot up the divisions and grow them on in the greenhouse until they are well established and then plant them out in the summer. Root cuttings.
Requires a deep rich well-drained soil in a sunny position[200]. The plant has large leaves and dislikes windy conditions since this can tear the leaves to shreds[200]. This species is probably hardy in the mildest areas of Britain but even then it should be given a good mulch if left in the ground overwinter[1, 200]. Plants have survived temperatures down to about -5¡c overwinter with us[K]. This species is often grown as a summer bedding plant in Britain, especially in sub-tropical bedding schemes. In colder areas of the country the tubers can be harvested in late autumn after the top growth has been killed back by frost and stored over winter. They should be kept in a cool but frost-free place covered in moist soil or leaves[1]. Plants are cultivated for their edible root in the Tropics. Slugs love the young growth in spring and can cause serious damage to plants[233].
S. America. W. Indies. Locally naturalized in the warmest parts of S. Europe[50].

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.