Achira (Canna edulis)

Canna edulis

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Excellent edible and ornamental canna lily that is native to the coast and valleys of the Andes. The tubers, seeds and leaves are all edible and widely used and cultivated in South America. The tubers can be steamed and/or baked like a potato and also is made into an arrowroot like powder to thicken foods. The leaves are steamed like greens and are quite nutritious containing 10% protein. The immature seeds are ground and made into tortillas and when mature used as buck shot, hence one of its common names "Indian Shot".

This plant was so important to native Andean cultures that it was buried with the dead in graves and has been dated back 3500 years. Very pest free and adaptable to different soil types. Likes a warm location and responds to rich soil and regular watering.

The plant has beautiful, lush leaves that are dark green striped with red. Can grow up to 6 or more feet tall and in long season climates has clusters of bright red flowers at the top. The leaves can take light frost, but tubers overwinter better with a good mulch to conserve heat and protect from freezing. Hardy to zone 8 with mulching. In colder climates the tubers can be dug in the fall and overwintered in a cool, but not freezing place in sand or moist leaves.