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Maranta and Sagittaria species


The arrowroot is an aquatic plant (or at least a plant of moist soils) with arrow-shaped leaves and potato like tubers in the mud. It has small white flowers.

Habitat and Distribution

Arrowroot is found worldwide in temperate zones and the tropics. Though it is now naturalized in Florida, it is cultivated in Jamaica, Australia, Southeast Asia, and South and East Africa.

It is found in moist to wet habitats, sometimes in slow moving streams, lakes or ponds.

The plantIt used to be very popular in British cuisine, and Napoleon supposedly said the reason for the British love of arrowroot was to support their colonies.[2

Edible Parts

The rootstock is a rich source of high quality starch. You have to remove the papery scales, and then you can boil the rootstock and eat it as a vegetable.

Steve's notes:

There are many species that have the name arrowroot. It is probably best to leave this one alone until you identify it with a good guide in hand. It is also usually a tough job to dig these roots out of the muck.

There are some species of arrowroot that have tubers which float. The procedure for getting at these used to be wiggling your toes in the muck to break them loose, so they would float to the surface, where you could easily scoop them up.

Studies by archeologists suggest that arrowroot was cultivated in the Americas 7,000 years ago. The starch is used in a variety of ways, but in a survival situation it's best to keep it simple and just clean up the roots and boil them.


The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Arrowroot