Our plant of the month is Arrowroot. It’s scientific name is Maranta arundinacea. The following information is sourced from Wikipedia.
Arrowroot is a large, perennial herb found in rainforest habitats. It 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 BC.
Arrowroot grows to a height of between 0.3 m and 1.5 m. 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 20 cm to 45 cm long.
The arrowroot plant probably originated in the Amazon rainforest of north-western Brazil and neighboring countries. It grows best between temperatures of 23 °C and 29 °C with annual precipitation between 1500 mm and 2000 mm.
We can see from the above information why Arrowroot grows so well in Queensland. It loves heat and water.
We can use Arrowroot for the following:
- Make mulch;
- Make compost;
- Select and prepare the rhizomes as food;
- Use the leaves as disposable plates;
- Use arrowroot to provide shelter in a food garden;
We can also make arrowroot starch from the rhizomes.
Jerry Coleby-Williams ran a project where he compared growing Comfrey to Arrowroot in Queensland. He produced around 45kg rhizomes from 10 sq metres of soil. Arrowroot is harvested when the outer skin of new rhizomes are shiny and purple. The plant easily beats Comfrey for it’s biomass production. This is a plant we should be growing here!