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Useful Tropical Plants

Tacca leontopetaloides

(L.) Kuntze

Taccaceae

+ Synonyms

Chaitaea tacca Sol. ex Seem.

Tacca abyssinica Hochst. ex Baker

Tacca artocarpifolia Seem.

Tacca brownie Seem.

Tacca dubia Schult. & Schult.f.

Tacca gaogao Blanco

Tacca hawaiiensis H.Limpr.

Tacca involucrata Schumach. & Thonn.

Tacca maculate Zipp. ex Span.

Tacca madagascariensis (H.Limpr.) H.Limpr.

Tacca madagascariensis Bojer

Tacca oceanic Seem.

Tacca phallifera Schult. & Schult.f.

Tacca pinnatifida J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.

Tacca pinnatifolia Gaertn.

Tacca quanzensis Welw.

Tacca umbrarum Jum. & H.Perrier

Tacca viridis Hemsl.

Common Name: Polynesian Arrowroot

Tacca leontopetaloides
Growing plant
Photograph by: Forest and Kim Starr
Creative Commons License
Tacca leontopetaloides Tacca leontopetaloides Tacca leontopetaloides Tacca leontopetaloides

General Information

Polynesian arrowroot is a perennial plant producing a single, leafy stem around 1 metre tall from a tuberous rootstock.
The plant was at one time widely cultivated for its edible root in many areas of the tropics, especially in the Pacific Islands[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
]. The starch was extracted and sold in quantity to Europe, where it was used in bread making[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
]. Its importance has declined, though it is still cultivated for local use in many areas[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
]. The plant also has various local medicinal uses and is grown as an ornamental[
398
Title
Edible Wild Plants of Tanzania
Publication
 
Author
Ruffo, C.K.: Birnie, A. & Tengnas, B.
Publisher
Regional Land Management Unit; Nairobi.
Year
2002
ISBN
9966-896-60-0
Description
A very well presented, simple guide to growing and utilizing wild food plants in Tanzania, with line drawings of each plant, a description, habitat and range, non-food as well as food uses, plus basic information on growing the plants.
].

Known Hazards

The untreated root is considered to be toxic in some areas[
398
Title
Edible Wild Plants of Tanzania
Publication
 
Author
Ruffo, C.K.: Birnie, A. & Tengnas, B.
Publisher
Regional Land Management Unit; Nairobi.
Year
2002
ISBN
9966-896-60-0
Description
A very well presented, simple guide to growing and utilizing wild food plants in Tanzania, with line drawings of each plant, a description, habitat and range, non-food as well as food uses, plus basic information on growing the plants.
,
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
,
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet

Range

Widely spread in tropical areas, either as a native plant or naturalized, from Africa, through Asia to Australia and the Pacific..

Habitat

Secondary forest and thickets, and many open situations, clearings, grassland, savannah, coconut groves, and beach vegetation {Barringtonia formation), not shunning seasonally dry areas, such as teak and eucalypt woodland[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitPerennial
Height1.00 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of low elevations in the moist tropics, where it is most commonly found near the sea and below elevations of 200 metres[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
].
Grows best in a fertile, humus-rich soil in the shade of trees[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Plants can set seed three years from being a seedling[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
].
The tuber is replaced during the year by a new main tuber which arises from a downward-growing runner-like thick rhizome at a lower level and remains dormant after the yearly death of the aerial parts of the original plant[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
].
Tubers are harvested when the aerial parts have died off[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
]. It usually takes about 8 months from planting the crop to harvest, but sometimes it can be as much as 10 - 12 months[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
].
Most plants produce many starchy tubers, similar in appearance to potatoes, usually 10 - 15 cm in diameter, but they can reach 30 cm on rich soils[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
]. They normally weigh from 70 to 340g but can reach 1 kg[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
].
Two distinct forms have been reported from the Pacific Islands, one producing a single large tuber, the other with a number of smaller (potato-sized) tubers[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
].

Edible Uses

The root is a rich source of starch. It can be eaten raw or roasted, or the starch can be extracted[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The tubers have eyes, a pale-yellow skin and dull-whitish flesh, and are usually bitter and almost inedible when raw[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
]. The starch, called Tahiti (or Fiji) arrowroot, is easy to extract and is used in breads or soups, it can be mixed with papayas, bananas and pumpkins, flavoured with vanilla and lemon, and cooked into poi[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
]. Good washing is essential because of the presence of the bitter substance (taccalin) which is said to be poisonous[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
].
To obtain the starch, the tubers are peeled, grated, and the resultant pulp washed in water several times, finally in a sieve or cloth. The aqueous starch solution is collected and the starch grains allowed to settle out, collected and dried in the sun[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
].
In cultivated plants the tuber can be 5 - 10cm long, with unconfirmed reports saying that it may reach the size of a coconut[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
].

Medicinal

Polynesian arrowroot is often used in traditional medicine in the Pacific Islands[
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
].

The inside of the root is squeezed in water and applied as a rinse to injured eyes. The starch from the tubers of the plant was used as a remedy for diarrhoea and dysentery[
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
]. The root is also used as a thickener in medical preparations[
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
].
The starch from the root is rubbed onto sores and burns[
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
].

The crushed leaf stalks of the plant are rubbed onto bee and wasp stings[
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
].
The stem is roasted and the sap squeezed out and used in the form of ear drops as a remedy for earache[
398
Title
Edible Wild Plants of Tanzania
Publication
 
Author
Ruffo, C.K.: Birnie, A. & Tengnas, B.
Publisher
Regional Land Management Unit; Nairobi.
Year
2002
ISBN
9966-896-60-0
Description
A very well presented, simple guide to growing and utilizing wild food plants in Tanzania, with line drawings of each plant, a description, habitat and range, non-food as well as food uses, plus basic information on growing the plants.
].

Other Uses

The leaf stalks and flower scapes make an excellent straw which can be used as a plaiting material for hats and bonnets[
454
Title
Useful Fiber Plants of the World
Publication
 
Author
Dodge C.R.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
USDA; Washington.
Year
1897
ISBN
 
Description
A rather dated, but very comprehensive catalogue of fibre plants from around the world. The book can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
459
Title
The Useful Plants of the Island of Guam
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 9
Author
Safford W.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Smithsonian Institute; Washington.
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A very comprehensive, if rather dated, guide to the plants of Guam. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The straw is split into narrow strips then cured and dried. It is said to make an excellent, lightweight, glossy, white hat[
459
Title
The Useful Plants of the Island of Guam
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 9
Author
Safford W.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Smithsonian Institute; Washington.
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A very comprehensive, if rather dated, guide to the plants of Guam. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The leaf stalks are made into brooms[
454
Title
Useful Fiber Plants of the World
Publication
 
Author
Dodge C.R.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
USDA; Washington.
Year
1897
ISBN
 
Description
A rather dated, but very comprehensive catalogue of fibre plants from around the world. The book can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

The fresh starch extracted from the roots is used as a starch for clothes and as a glue[
459
Title
The Useful Plants of the Island of Guam
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 9
Author
Safford W.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Smithsonian Institute; Washington.
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A very comprehensive, if rather dated, guide to the plants of Guam. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Traditionally, it is employed for pasting together the thin layers of beaten bark of the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera] in making tapa cloth[
459
Title
The Useful Plants of the Island of Guam
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 9
Author
Safford W.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Smithsonian Institute; Washington.
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A very comprehensive, if rather dated, guide to the plants of Guam. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Propagation

Seed -
Division of the small, tuberous rhizomes which form at the base of the plant and often remain in the soil when the larger ones are harvested[
429
Title
Root Crops
Publication
 
Author
Kay. D.E. Revised by Gooding. E.G.B.
Publisher
Tropical Development and Crop Research: London.
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on about 40 species of tropical root crops.
]

Comments

blessing sam 18th May 2015 4:11
is polynesian arrowroot same as amora

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