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400 species in 30 genera are found in tropical regions chiefly in America.
[Summary yet to be added]
- Maranta arundinacea L.
The tubers of this species provide West Indian, St Vincent, or Bermuda arrowroot, a starch product. According to Pereira (1842), the name "arrowroot" was coined by Colonel James Walker who brought the plant from Dominica to Barbados and thence to Jamaica, and who observed that the native Indians used the root against the poison of their arrows by mashing and applying it to the poisoned wounds. The term arrowroot has since that time been used as a generic name for several other starch products, mostly from botanically-unrelated plants (Pereira 1842, Mabberley 1987):
- Arum maculatum L., fam. Araceae — yields Portland arrowroot
- Canna edulis Ker Gawl., fam. Cannaceae — yields Queensland arrowroot
- Curcuma angustifolia Roxb., fam. Zingiberaceae — yields East India arrowroot
- Dioscorea alata L., fam. Dioscoreaceae — yields Guyana arrowroot
- Manihot esculenta Crantz, fam. Euphorbiaceae — yields Brazilian, Pará or Rio arrowroot
- Myrosma cannifolia L.f., fam. Marantaceae — yields marble arrowroot
- Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn., fam. Nelumbonaceae — yields Chinese arrowroot
- Pueraria lobata Ohwi, fam. Leguminosae — yields Japanese arrowroot
- Tacca leontopetaloides Kuntze, fam. Taccaceae — yields African, Fiji, Hawaiian, or Tahiti arrowroot
- Solanum tuberosum L., fam. Solanaceae — yields English arrowroot, better known as potato starch
- Zamia integrifolia Aiton, fam. Zamiaceae — yields Florida arrowroot
The starch of the root is said to produce respiratory allergy (Greenberg and Lester 1954).
- Thaumatococcus daniellii (Bennett) Benth.
The pulp around the seed of this West African species has a sweetening effect on the taste similar to that produced by Synsepalum dulcificum Daniell, fam. Sapotaceae and Sphenocentrum jollyanum Pierre, fam. Menispermaceae (Dalziel 1937, Menninger 1967).
- Dalziel, J.M. (1937) The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa. London. Crown Agents.
- Greenberg, L.A. and Lester, D. (1954) Handbook of Cosmetic Materials. New York. Interscience.
- Mabberley DJ (1987) The Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- Menninger EA (1967) Fantastic Trees. New York: Viking Press [WorldCat]
- Pereira J (1842) Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 2nd edn, Vols 1 & 2. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans [WorldCat]