Botanical Name: Canna edulis
Some other names: Achira, Canna Achira, Queensland arrowroot
How to grow it:
Arrowroot is amongst the most hardy and productive of all edible perennial plants. If you know the ornamental Canna lillies, then you’ll have a good idea about the growth habit of Arrowroot. It will grow to about 2m and produce lush green foliage for all but the coldest months of the year. Prefers full sun, but handles light shade well too.
Arrowroot will tolerate all water conditions from bog to drought, but will obviously produce more if given a regular water supply.
I’ve never watered mine – it seems quite happy with whatever rainfall nature provides. Of course you can expect higher production in deeper and more fertile soils, but really, they’ll grow just about anywhere.
Propogation is as simple as digging up the tubers and replanting them in their new position. Just make sure each tuber has an eye from which to sprout from – some tubers have several.
Revered mainly for the starch content in the tubers, which can be made into an easy to digest flour or thickener. Also contains protein, potassium, calcium & phosphorous. Not the most potent plant nutrition wise, but a handy addition to stretch out a cooked meal.
Using it in the kitchen:
Young growing tips & unfurled leaves can be used as a cooked vegetable or added to stir-fries for an interesting texture.
Peeled tubers can be grated or diced raw into salads – they have a slightly sweet, crunchy texture.
Most commonly though, the tubers are peeled and used like potatoes – in casseroles, soups and curries or chopped into chips or a roasted vegetable. They tend to take on the flavour of the meal and retain their crunchy texture. I think they’re best cooked a little longer than you would potatoes.
To thicken a meal – especially soups, try grating them.
Arrowroot is a brilliant survival food as they’re incredibly hardy and productive and can be harvested at any time of year. I only use the tubers occasionally, but am well aware that there’s plenty of food in the garden anytime you’ve got some arrowroot in.
Arrowroot makes a great mulch for your garden & can be cut down to the base several times in any growing season. It’s worthy as a plant in your garden just for this purpose.
Also makes good animal fodder (the leaves are high in protein) and an excellent windbreak or border for your vege patch.
All in all an extremely useful plant.