1. Maranta Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 2. 1753; Gen. Pl., ed. 5; 2, 1754.
Arrowroot, prayer-plant [for Bartolomea Maranti, Venetian physician and botanist who lived during the mid 1500s]
Plants terrestrial, prostrate, scandent, or upright, usually dying back to rhizome during dry season, 0.1--1.5(--1.8) m. Rhizomes occasionally swollen, storing starch. Stems branched or unbranched with basal and cauline leaves to highly branched above elongate, cane-like stem (internode) with few or no basal leaves. Leaves homotropic [rarely antitropic]; sheath usually auriculate, not spongy; blade [patterned] plain green, ovate to elliptic. Inflorescences usually 2--several per shoot, spikel-like, unbranched; bracts persistent, subtending 2--6 pedicellate flower pairs, herbaceous; prophylls keeled, membranous; secondary bracts absent; bracteoles usually absent. Flowers self-fertilizing [or outcrossing], corolla white, staminodes white [purple]; sepals persistent in fruit, more than 5 mm, herbaceous; corolla tube [4--]12--14 mm, corolla lobes unequal; outer staminodes 2, petal-like; callose staminode apex usually petal-like; cucullate staminode with 1 appendage, medial [subterminal], flaplike [fingerlike]; stylar movement in single plane; style unappendaged. Fruits capsules, 1-seeded, obliquely ellipsoid, pericarp relatively thin, dehiscent. Seeds brown, ellipsoid, rugose; perisperm canal 1, distally branched; aril conspicuous, white.
Species 32 (1 in the flora): tropical and subtropical regions, s Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America (to n Argentina).
Andersson, L. 1986. Revision of Maranta subgen. Maranta. Nordic J. Bot. 6: 729--756. Anonymous. 1893. St. Vincent arrowroot. Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1893: 191--204. Hodge, W. H. and D. Taylor. 1957. The ethnobotany of the Island Caribs of Dominica. Webbia 12: 513--644. Morton, J. F. 1977. Wild Plants for Survival in South Florida, ed. 4. Miami. Purseglove, J. W. 1972. Tropical Crops. Monocotyledons. 2 vols. London. Pp. 336--342. Sturtevant, W. C. 1969. History and ethnography of some West Indian starches. In: P. J. Ucko and G. W. Dimbleby, eds. 1969. The Domestication and Exploitation of Plants and Animals. Chicago. Pp. 177--199.