Botanical Name: Maranta arundinaceae
Species: M. arundinacea
*Maranta indica Tussac
*Maranta minor Chantrier ex André
*Maranta ramosissima Wall.
*Maranta sylvatica Roscoe ex Sm.
*Maranta tessellata var. kegeljanii E.Morren
*Phrynium variegatum N.E.Br., nom. illeg.
Comon Names: Arrowroot, Maranta, West Indian arrowroot, Obedience plant, Bermuda arrowroot, Araru, Ararao or Hulankeeriya
Habitat: 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). 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, Taiwan, Yunnan), Kazan Rett?, Mauritius, Réunion, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Florida, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the world’s largest grower of arrowroot and producer of arrowroot flour. In Kerala , India, arrowroot, locally called bilathi koova, is cultivated to produce an easily digestible starch.
The arrowroot plant probably originated in the Amazon rainforest of north-western Brazil and neighboring countries. It grows best between temperatures of 23 °C (73 °F) and 29 °C (84 °F) with annual precipitation between 1,500 millimetres (59 in) and 2,000 millimetres (79 in). The dormant rhizomes can withstand temperatures as low as 5 °C (41 °F).
In the United States, arrowroot is cultivated as an outside plant only in southern Florida
Parts Used: Fecula (starch) of the tuberous root.
Arrowroot is a perennial plant growing to a height of between .3 metres (12 in) and 1.5 metres (59 in). 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, cylindical, and grow from 20 centimetres (7.9 in) to 45 centimetres (18 in) long.
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Arrowroot was very popular in the Victorian era, and Napoleon supposedly said the reason for the British love of arrowroot was to support the commerce of their colonies. It can be consumed in the form of biscuits, puddings, jellies, cakes, hot sauces, and also with beef tea, milk or veal broth. Kudzu arrowroot (Pueraria lobata) is used in noodles in Korean and Vietnamese cuisine. In the Victorian era it was used, boiled with a little flavouring added, as an easily digestible food for children and people with dietary restrictions. With today’s greater understanding of its limited nutritional properties, it is no longer used in this way. In Burma, arrowroot tubers, which are called artarlut, are boiled or steamed and eaten with salt and oil.
Arrowroot makes clear, shimmering fruit gels and prevents ice crystals from forming in homemade ice cream. It can also be used as a thickener for acidic foods, such as Asian sweet and sour sauce. It is used in cooking to produce a clear, thickened sauce, such as a fruit sauce. It will not make the sauce go cloudy, like cornstarch, flour, or other starchy thickening agents would.
The lack of gluten in arrowroot flour makes it useful as a replacement for wheat flour in some baking uses. Like other pure starches, however, arrowroot is almost pure carbohydrates and devoid of protein, thus it does not provide a complete substitute for wheat flour for bread-making, which requires gluten.
Arrowroot thickens at a lower temperature than flour or cornstarch, is not weakened by acidic ingredients, has a more neutral taste, and is not affected by freezing. It does not mix well with dairy, forming a slimy mixture. It is recommended that arrowroot be mixed with a cool liquid before adding to a hot fluid. The mixture should be heated only until the mixture thickens and removed immediately to prevent the mixture from thinning. Overheating tends to break down arrowroot’s thickening property. Two teaspoons of arrowroot can be substituted for one tablespoon of cornstarch, or one teaspoon of arrowroot for one tablespoon of wheat flour.
An 1887 analysis of the root of the St. Vincent Arrowroot gave starch 27.17 per cent, fibre, fat, albumen, sugar, gum, ash, and 62.96 per cent water.
Of the starch was given: starch 83’70 per cent., fibre, fat, sugar, gum, ash and sand, and water 15.87 per cent.
The official granules, according to Pereira, are ‘rarely oblong, somewhat ovate-oblong, or irregularly convex, from 10 to 70 microns in diameter, with very fine lamellae, a circular hilium which is fissured in a linear or stellate manner.’
Arrowroot is chiefly valuable as an easily digested, nourishing diet for convalescents, especially in bowel complaints, as it has demulcent properties. In the proportion of a tablespoonful to a pint of water or milk, it should be prepared by being first made into a smooth paste with a little cold milk or water, and then carefully stirred while the boiling milk is added. Lemon-juice, sugar, wine, or aromatics may be added. If thick, it will cool into a jelly that usually suits weaning infants better than other farinaceous foods.
It is said that the mashed rhizomes are used for application to wounds from poisoned arrows, scorpion and black spider bites, and to arrest gangrene.
The freshly-expressed juice, mixed with water, is said to be a good antidote, taken internally, for vegetable poisons, such as Savanna.
Arrowroot has been used as an infant formula in place of breast milk or to help the baby adjust after weaning. A jelly made from arrowroot is often preferred by recently weaned infants to infant cereal or other farinaceous foods. Compared to other starches, arrowroot is believed to be the easiest to digest.
It is believed that the herb is an effective treatment against poisoned wounds, including scorpion stings, snake bites, and spider bites. Additionally, arrowroot has been used to treat gangrene.
Fresh arrowroot juice mixed with water, if drunk, is said to be an antidote to vegetable poisons.
The plant is used as an herbal remedy to alleviate nausea and to replenish nutrients lost through diarrhea and vomiting.
Used as a foot powder to combat excess moisture that may lead to athlete’s foot or other foot problems. Arrowroot does not have antifungal properties, so its use is restricted to moisture control alone.
Potential Side Effects of Arrowroot:
As with any herbal remedy, caution should be exercised when taking arrowroot. While a doctor should always be consulted before using herbal remedies, use special caution before giving it to children, pregnant or nursing mothers, or anyone with kidney or liver disease.
If considering arrowroot for an infant formula, consult the child’s pediatrician first and monitor closely for allergic reactions.
There are no known side effects linked to arrowroot, and it is not known to have any adverse interactions with drugs or chemicals in food.
When using the herb to alleviate diarrhea, it should not be taken with any other medication or supplement for diarrhea, as this may lead to constipation.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.