Canna indica

Family : Cannaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini


The Canna indica L. (1753) is native to tropical and subtropical America: U.S.A. (Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas), Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Lesser Antilles, French Guyana, Guyana, Surinam, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

The name of the genus comes from the Latin “canna” = reed, rush; the name of the species “indica” = of India, with reference to the place of origin of the species (the American continent was known as the “West Indies”).

Common names: “Indian-shot”, “canna”, “wild canna lily” (English); “chupa flor”, “achira”, “bandera de uriba”, “caña comestible”, “caña de la India”, “caña coro”, “café cimarrón”, “capacho”, “chisgua”, “chumbima”, “cucuyus”, “lengua de dragón”, “maraca”, “papantia”, “platanillo”, “yuquilla”, “sagú” (Spanish); “conflore”, “balisier des Indes”, “balisier rouge”, “canna”, “canna florifère”, “canne d’Inde”, “toloman”, “tous-les-mois”, “faux sucrier”, “balisier comestible” (French); “albarà”, “araruta bastarda”, “araruta de porco”, “bananeirinha-da-India”, “bananeirinha-de-flor”, “beri”, “birù manso”, “caeté-dos-jardims”, “cana-da-India”, “erva-de-conteira” (Portuguese); Westindisches Blumenrohr” (German).

Perennial rhizomatous herb with a stem tall up to 1,5-2 metres, with winding foliar sheath of green colour or purple, spirally arranged, ovate-oblong leaves, on a short petiole, long up to about 60 cm and 20 cm broad, green on the upper side, green or purple on the inferior one. The inflorescence is erect, racemose, with pale purple bracts and several flowers with corollas formed of 3 upright, lanceolate petals, usually of red to orange yellow colour, long 4-5 cm, united at the base to 2-3 staminoids (that is, modified petal-shaped stamens) erect, 6-7 cm long, of red to orange yellow colour, and to a bent one (labellum), reddish yellow dotted of red. The fruits are trivalve ovoid capsules, long 14-20 mm, containing globose seeds, of 5-7 mm of diameter, black or dark brown. It easily reproduces by division, but also by seed, which anyway must be previously scarified and soaked in water for some days, seen the hardness of its tegument, in order to facilitate its germination.

Plant introduced in Europe during the second half of 1500 and quickly spread also in Africa and Asia. Besides being cultivated as ornamental plant, even if for this purpose it has been now replaced by its very numerous hybrids and varieties with huge showy inflorescences, its rhizomes have had in the old times great importance in the human and animal alimentation and still nowadays in some tropical and subtropical zones the rhizomes, rich of highly digestible starch, are consumed cooked at the oven or grilled, whilst the flour is employed in confectionery. The rhizomes are also variously utilized in the traditional medicine, whilst they get necklaces and rosaries with the very hard seeds.

Canna indica with growing fruits. Perennial herbaceous, native to tropical and subtropical America, can exceed 2 m of height with spirally arranged leaves even 60 cm long and 20 cm broad. Inconspicuous, is now almost completely replaced in cultivation by its numerous hybrids. Edible rhizomes with medicinal virtues © G. Mazza

Canna indica with growing fruits. Perennial herbaceous, native to tropical and subtropical America, can exceed 2 m of height with spirally arranged leaves even 60 cm long and 20 cm broad. Inconspicuous, is now almost completely replaced in cultivation by its numerous hybrids. Edible rhizomes with medicinal virtues © G. Mazza

Synonyms: Canna coccinea Mill. (1768); Canna lutea Mill. (1768); Canna juncea Retz. (1779); Canna indica var. coccinea (Mill.) Aiton (1789); Canna indica var. lutea (Mill.) Aiton (1789); Canna indica var. patens Aiton, (1789); Canna indica var. rubra Aiton (1789); Cannacorus indicus (L.) Medik. (1790); Cannacorus ovatus Moench (1794); Canna patens (Aiton) Roscoe (1807); Canna variabilis Willd. (1808); Canna chinensis Willd. (1808); Canna rubra Willd. (1808); Canna variegata Besser (1810); Canna textoria Noronha (1811); Canna ellipticifolia Stokes (1812); Canna ellipticifolia var. coccinea (Mill.) Stokes (1812); Canna ellipticifolia var. lutea (Mill.) Stokes (1812); Canna ellipticifolia var. patens (Aiton) Stokes (1812); Canna ellipticifolia var. rubra Stokes (1812); Canna speciosa Hegetschw (1813); Canna thyrsiflora Hegetschw. (1813); Canna elegans Raf. (1817); Canna bifida Roem. & Schult. (1817); Canna crocea Roem. & Schult. (1817); Canna lambertii Lindl. ex Ker Gawl. (1820); Canna aureovittata Lodd. (1821); Canna rubricaulis Link (1821); Canna speciosa Roscoe ex Sims (1822); Canna indica var. maculata Hook. (1823); Canna platyphylla Nees & Mart. (1823); Canna compacta Roscoe (1824); Canna edulis Ker Gawl. (1824); Canna occidentalis Ker Gawl (1824); Canna pallida Roscoe (1824); Canna aurantiaca Roscoe (1826); Canna carnea Roscoe (1826); Canna orientalis Roscoe (1826); Canna orientalis var. flava Roscoe (1826); Canna lanuginosa Roscoe (1827); Canna limbata Roscoe (1827); Canna montana Blume (1827); Canna maxima Lodd. ex Roscoe (1828); Canna pruinosa Hoffmanns. (1828); Canna discolor Lindl. (1829); Canna flavescens Link (1829); Canna maculata (Hook.) Link (1829); Canna achiras Gillies ex D.Don (1830); Canna esculenta Loudon (1830); Canna lagunensis Lindl. (1830); Canna tenuiflora Bouché ex A.Dietr. (1831); Canna barbadica Bouché (1833); Canna commutata Bouché (1833); Canna ehrenbergii Bouché (1833); Canna heliconiifolia Bouché (1833); Canna humilis Bouché (1833); Canna leptochila Bouché (1833); Canna nepalensis Bouché (1833); Canna orientalis Bouché (1833); Canna polymorpha Bouché (1833); Canna roscoeana Bouché (1833); Canna sanguinea Bouché, (1833); Canna sellowii Bouché (1833); Canna sulphurea Bouché (1833); Canna xalapensis Bouché (1833); Canna altensteinii Bouché (1837); Canna poeppigii Bouché (1838); Canna portoricensis Bouché (1838); Xyphostylis lutea (Mill.) Raf. (1838); Canna pentaphylla D.Dietr. (1839); Canna pulchra Hassk. (1844); Canna cinnabarina Bouché (1845); Canna concinna Bouché (1845); Canna densifolia Bouché (1845); Canna exigua Bouché (1845); Canna floribunda Bouché (1845); Canna formosa Bouché (1845); Canna fulgida Bouché (1845); Canna laeta Bouché (1845); Canna moritziana Bouché (1845); Canna recurvata Bouché (1845); Canna spectabilis Bouché (1845); Canna surinamensis Bouché (1845); Canna variegata Bouché (1845); Canna ventricosa Bouché (1845); Canna sanguinea Warsz. ex Otto & A.Dietr. (1851); Canna warszewiczii A.Dietr. (1851); Canna saturate-rubra Bouché ex K.Koch (1858); Canna tinei Tod. (1858); Canna bidentata Bertol. (1859); Canna eximia Bouché ex Horan. (1862); Canna macrophylla Horan. (1862); Canna pulchra Bouché ex Horan. (1862); Canna rotundifolia André (1862); Canna schubertii Horan. (1862); Canna polyclada Wawra (1863); Canna coccinea var. concolor Regel (1867); Canna coccinea var. floribunda (Bouché) Regel (1867); Canna coccinea var. limbata Regel (1867); Canna indica var. edwarsii Regel (1867); Canna indica var. karsteniana Regel (1867); Canna indica var. variegata Regel (1867); Canna lutea var. aurantiaca (Roscoe) Regel (1867); Canna lutea var. maculata (Hook.) Regel (1867); Canna lutea var. pallida (Roscoe) Regel (1867); Canna texensis Regel (1867); Canna indica var. limbata (Regel) Petersen (1890); Canna indica var. flava (Roscoe) Baker (1892); Canna indica var. nepalensis (Bouché) Baker (1892); Canna indica var. orientalis Baker (1892); Canna indica var. speciosa Baker (1892); Canna orientalis var. flavescens (Link) Baker (1893); Canna patens var. limbata (Regel) Baker (1893); Canna cearensis Huber (1901); Canna coccinea f. flaviflora Chodat & Hassl. (1903); Canna warszewiczii var. flameus Ram.Goyena (1911); Canna coccinea var. bicolor Kraenzl. (1912); Canna heliconiifolia var. xalapensis (Bouché) Kraenzl. (1912); Canna lutea var. genuina Kraenzl. (1912); Canna sanctae-rosae Kraenzl. (1912); Canna seleriana Kraenzl. (1912); Canna lutea Larrañaga (1923); Canna variegatifolia Ciciar. (1995); Canna amabilis T.Koyama & Nob.Tanaka (2000); Canna plurituberosa T.Koyama & Nob.Tanaka (2000); Canna discolor var. rubripunctata Nob.Tanaka, (2001); Canna discolor var. viridifolia Nob.Tanaka (2001); Canna indica var. sanctae-rosae (Kraenzl.) Nob.Tanaka, (2001); Canna indica var. warszewiczii Nob.Tanaka (2001); Canna ascendens Ciciar. (2007).


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