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Maranta arundinacea

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Maranta arundinacea, also known as arrowroot,<ref name=GRIN>Template:GRIN</ref> maranta,<ref name=GRIN/> West Indian arrowroot,<ref name=GRIN/> obedience plant, Bermuda arrowroot, araru, ararao or hulankeeriya, is a large, perennial herb found in rainforest habitats. Arrowroot flour is now produced commercially mostly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Arrowroot was one of the earliest plants to be domesticated for food in northern South America, with evidence of exploitation or cultivation of the plant dating back to 8200 BCE.

Description

The root of M. arundinacea.

Arrowroot is a perennial plant growing to a height of between Template:Convert and Template:Convert. Its leaves are lanceolate. The edible part of the plant is the rhizome. Twin clusters of small white flowers bloom about 90 days after planting. The plant rarely produces seed and reproduction is typically by planting part of a rhizome with a bud. Rhizomes are ready for harvesting 10–12 months after planting as leaves of the plant begin to wilt and die. The rhizomes are fleshy, cylindrical, and grow from Template:Convert to Template:Convert long.<ref>Root Crops, NRI, 1987. http://www.nzdl.org/gsdlmod?e=q-00000-00---off-0fnl2%2e2--00-0----0-10-0---0---0direct-10---4-----sti--0-1l--11-en-50---20-about-root+crops+--00-0-1-00-0--4----0-0-11-10-0utfZz-8-00&a=d&c=fnl2.2&srp=0&srn=0&cl=search&d=HASHd8d905db1c6eae0daee48f.22; FAO, "Maranta arundinacea", http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/cropView?id=2335, accessed 19 Feb 2016</ref>

The arrowroot plant probably originated in the Amazon rainforest of north-western Brazil and neighboring countries. It grows best between temperatures of Template:Convert and Template:Convert with annual precipitation between Template:Convert and Template:Convert. The dormant rhizomes can withstand temperatures as low as Template:Convert.<ref>"Maranta arundinacea", http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Maranta+arundinacea, accessed 19 Feb 2016</ref>

In the continental United States, arrowroot is cultivated as an outside plant only in southern Florida.<ref>"Arrowroot -- "Moscata arundinecea" EDIS, University of Florida, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mv009, accessed 19 Feb 2016</ref>

Distribution

Maranta arundinacea is native to Mexico, Central America, the West Indies (Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Lesser Antilles) and South America (Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana).<ref name=GRIN/> It is widely cultivated in the many warm countries and is considered naturalized in Jamaica, Bahamas, Bermuda, the Netherlands Antilles, India, Sri Lanka, China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan), Taiwan, Kazan Rettō (火山列島), Mauritius, Réunion, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Florida, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.<ref>Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Maranta arundinacea </ref><ref>Flora of China v 24, p 382, Maranta arundinacea </ref>

The Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the world's largest grower of arrowroot and producer of arrowroot flour.<ref>"Root Crops"</ref> In Kerala, India, arrowroot, locally called bilathi koova, is cultivated to produce an easily digestible starch.<ref>"Koova (arrowroot), http://papanasini.blogspot.com/2014/01/koova.html, accessed 21 Feb 2016</ref>

Prehistoric domestication

Radio-carbon dating has established that M. arundinacea was one of the first plants domesticated in prehistoric South America. Arrowroot, along with leren (Calathea allouia), squash (Cucurbita moschata), and bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) became cultivated plants in northern South American and Panama between 8200 BCE and 5600 BCE.<ref>Piperno, Dolores R. (Oct 2011), "The Origins of Plant Cultivation and Domestication in the New World Tropics", Current Anthropology, Vol 52, No. 54, p. S 459. Downloaded from JSTOR.</ref> Some archaeologists believe that arrowroot was first used by Native Americans not as food but as a poultice to extract poison from wounds caused by spears or arrows.<ref>Piperno, Dolores R. and Pearsall, Deborah M. (1998), The Origins of Agriculture in the Lowland Neotropics, San Diego: Academic Press, p. 115, 199</ref>

Evidence of the use of arrowroot as food has been found dating from 8200 BCE at the San Isidro archaeological site in the upper Cauca River valley of Colombia near the city of Popayán. Starch grains from arrowroot were found on grinding tools. It is unclear whether the arrowroot had been gathered or grown, although the elevation of the site of Template:Convert is probably outside the normal range of elevations at which M. arundinacea grows in the wild. Thus, the plant may have been introduced at San Isidro from nearby lowland rain forest areas in a pioneering effort to cultivate it. Stone hoes for cultivation of plants have been found which date as old as 7700 BCE in the middle Cauca valley, Template:Convert north of San Isidro.<ref>Piperno and Pearsall, pp. 199-203</ref>

Domestication of arrowroot at these early dates was probably on a small-scale with gardens of only a few plants being planted in alluvial soils near streams to ensure the steady supply of moisture needed during the growing season by arrowroot and other similar root crops. The exploitation of arrowroot foot was probably complicated by the difficulty of extracting the starch from the fibrous roots. The roots must first be pounded or ground then soaked in water to separate the starch from the fibers. The starch is excellent for digestibility.<ref>Piperno and Pearsall, pp 115, 202</ref>

Uses

Currently arrowroot starch is used in food preparations and confectionery, and for industrial applications such as cosmetics and glue. The residue of starch extraction has a high fibre content and can be fed to livestock.<ref>Heuzé V., Tran G., 2017. Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/545 Last updated on July 17, 2017, 14:10</ref>

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References

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External links

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