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
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.
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.