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Canna indica L.

Canna indica L.




Canna coccinea P. Miller, Canna edulis Ker-Gawler, Canna orientalis Roscoe.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Daun tasbeh, ganjong, pisang sebiak.
English Canna, Queensland arrowroot, Indian shot.
Indonesia Ganyong (Javanese, Sundanese), buah tasbeh (Javanese), ubi pikul (Sumatra).
Philippines Tikas-tikas (Tagalog), kukuwintasan (Tagalog), balunsaying (Bisaya).
Burma (Myanmar) Adalut, butsarana.
Cambodia Ché:k té:hs.
Laos Kwàyz ké: so:n, kwàyz ph'uttha so:n.
Thailand Phuttharaksa (General), phutthason (Northern).
Vietnam Chu[oos]i hoa, dong ri[eef]ng, khoai dao.
French Balisier, canna.
Spanish Achira.

Geographical Distributions

Canna indica is native to South America but it is now cultivated pantropically and also in other warmer regions of the world. In many regions including Southeast Asia, it has also become naturalised.


C. indica is a rhizomatous, perennial, erect and robust herb that can reach up to 3.5 m tall. The rhizome branches are horizontally, measure up to 60 cm long and measuring 10 cm in diametre, with fleshy segments that resemble corms, covered with scale leaves, and thick fibrous roots. The stem is fleshy, arising from the rhizome, measures 1-1.5 m tall and often tinged with purple.

The leaves are arranged spirally with large open sheaths and sometimes with a short petiolate. The blade is narrowly ovate to narrowly elliptical, measuring up to 60 cm x 15-27 cm, entire, rounded to wedge-shaped at the base, gradually attenuate to the sheath, acuminate at the apex, prominent at the midrib and often slightly purplish underside.

The inflorescence is terminal, racemose and usually simple but sometimes branched. It bears single or paired, irregular and bisexual flowers. The bracts are broadly obovate and measuring 1-2 cm x 1 cm. There are 3 ovate sepals measuring 1-1.5 cm x 0.4-0.9 cm and acute. The petal is 4-5 cm long where the lowermost is 1 cm fused into a tube and with free lobes. There are 3 linear lobes, measuring 3-4 cm x 0.3-0.6 cm and pale red to yellow. The androecium is petaloid and forms the showy part of the flower, composed of an outer whorl of 3 staminodes and an inner whorl of 2 connate staminodes (one of which forms a large lip or labellum) and with 1 fertile stamen. The outer staminodes are spoon-shaped, measuring 4-6 cm x 1-1.5 cm, very unequal often in length or only 2 clearly visible, fused at the base and reddish. The yellow spotted with red labellum is narrowly oblong-ovate and measuring 4-5 cm x 0.5-0.8 cm. The stamen is 4-5 cm long while the anther is 0.7-1 cm long and adnate to the petaloid portion at the base. The ovary is inferior, trilocular, fleshy style, measures 4-5 cm long, reddish and adnate at the base to androecium.

The fruit is a loculicidally dehiscent ovoid capsule, measuring 3 cm x 2.5 cm and with soft spines outside.

The seeds are blackish to very dark brown spherical, numerous, measuring 0.5 cm in diameter, smooth and hard.

Ecology / Cultivation

C. indica grows well in various climates. A well distributed annual rainfall of 1000-1200 mm is satisfactory. It seems to be a day length neutral, as it grows and flowers under a broad range of photoperiodic conditions. It is affected by drought, but tolerates excessive moisture (but not waterlogging). It is very tolerant of shade. The normal growth occurs at temperatures above 10°C, but it also survives at high temperatures of 30-32°C and tolerates light frost. C. indica grows from sea level up to 1000(-2900) m altitudes. It thrives on many soils, including those marginal for most other tuber crops (e.g. weathered, acidic latosols). The preferred soils are deep sandy loams rich in humus. It tolerates a pH range of 4.5-8.0.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 9: Plants yielding non-seed carbohydrates.

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