(Canna Shot plant
) is the only genus in family Cannaceae, comprising 19 species of flowering plants. It has close relation with plant family Zingiberales which include ginger, banana, maranta, heliconia, strelitzias, etc.
Canna is famous for its large, colorful flower and attractive foliage. It has rhizomatous rootstock, leaves that are broad and flat which grow out of a stem in a long narrow roll and then unfurl. The leaves are normally green but some cultivars have glaucose, brownish, maroon, or even variegated leaves. The large and beautiful flowers are typically red, orange, or yellow or a combination of these colors. The flowers attract pollinators collecting nectar and pollens like bees, hummingbirds and bats.
Canna is one of the most popular garden plants, and some species and cultivars are widely grown in the garden and containers. They can also be used as herbaceous borders, tropical plantings, and as a patio or decking plant. The whole plant has many uses and commercial value; rhizomes for starch (consumption for humans and livestock), stems and foliage for animal fodder, the young shoot as vegetable and young seeds as an addition to tortillas. The seeds are used for jewelry and musical instrument and also purple dye is obtained from the seed. Fibres from the leaves are used for making paper, smoke from burning the plants is said to be insecticidal. Canna is also a traditional Father's Day gift in Thailand. In Vietnam, the cellophane noodle named mien dong is made from canna's starch.
In South America, a specific generic term called Canna achira
is used to describe the Cannas that are specially grown for agricultural purposes, nornally derived from C. discolor
. They are grown for its edible rootstock from which the starch is obtained, but the leaves and young seeds are also edible. Canna achira
was once a staple foodcrop in Peru and Ecuador.
Canna is grow best in full sun and in well-drained soil. Propagation is by seed in spring or autumn; or divide rhizomes in spring. Slugs and snails love to attack the young leaves of Canna which are yet open, leaving a big hole. Other pests include Red Spider Mite and the Japanese Beetles. Canna can also fall victim to canna rust (a fungal disease resulting in orange spots on leaves, caused by over-moist soil). The flowers are sometimes affected by Botrytis (a grey, fuzzy mold).
Forest & Kim Starr