Canna indica - L.
Common Name Indian Shot
Family Cannaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Original habitat is obscure, but it is found by the coast and in temperate valleys of the Andes[97].
Range S. America. W. Indies. Locally naturalized in the warmest parts of S. Europe[50].
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

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Canna indica Indian Shot
Canna indica Indian Shot
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Canna indica is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Cultivated Beds; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - cooked. The source of 'canna starch', used as an arrowroot[97, 177]. The arrowroot is obtained by rasping the root to a pulp, then washing and straining to get rid of the fibres[2]. The very young tubers are eaten cooked, they are sweet but fibrousy[97, K]. Roots contain about 25% starch[61]. There is one report that this plant has an edible fruit[177] but this is somewhat dubious, the fruit is a dry capsule containing the very hard seeds[K].
Medicinal Uses

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Demulcent;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  VD;  Women's complaints.

The plant is used in the treatment of women's complaints[218]. A decoction of the root with fermented rice is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea and amenorrhoea[218]. The plant is also considered to be demulcent, diaphoretic and diuretic[218].


Other Uses
Dye;  Fibre;  Insecticide;  Paper.

The plant yields a fibre - from the stem? - it is a jute substitute[114]. A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making paper[189]. The leaves are harvested in late summer after the plant has flowered, they are scraped to remove the outer skin and are then soaked in water for 2 hours prior to cooking. The fibres are cooked for 24 hours with lye and then beaten in a blender. They make a light tan brown paper[189]. A purple dye is obtained from the seed[114]. Smoke from the burning leaves is said to be insecticidal[218].
Cultivation details
Requires a deep rich well-drained soil in a sunny position[200]. The plant has large leaves and dislikes windy conditions since this can tear the leaves to shreds[200]. This species is probably hardy in the mildest areas of Britain but even then it should be given a good mulch if left in the ground overwinter[1, 200]. Plants have survived temperatures down to about -5°c overwinter with us[K]. This species is often grown as a summer bedding plant in Britain, especially in sub-tropical bedding schemes. In colder areas of the country the tubers can be harvested in late autumn after the top growth has been killed back by frost and stored over winter. They should be kept in a cool but frost-free place covered in moist soil or leaves[1]. Plants are cultivated for their edible root in the Tropics. Slugs love the young growth in spring and can cause serious damage to plants[233].
Seed - pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water and sow February/March in a warm greenhouse at 20°c[1, 138]. Plant the seeds 2 - 5cm deep in individual pots[1]. Scarifying the seed can speed germination, especially if the seed has not swollen after being soaked[124, K]. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 9 weeks[138]. Grow the plants on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division of the root clump as the plant comes into growth in the spring. Each portion must have at least one growing point. Pot up the divisions and grow them on in the greenhouse until they are well established and then plant them out in the summer. Root cuttings.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Althaea cannabinaPalm-leaf marshmallow00
Apocynum cannabinumIndian Hemp22
Canna edulisAchira, Indian shot30
Canna glaucaLouisiana Canna, Maraca amarilla20
Cannabis sativaHemp, Marijuana44
Celtis australisNettle Tree, European hackberry32
Datisca cannabinaAcalbir, Akalbir01
Eupatorium cannabinumHemp Agrimony03
Hibiscus cannabinusKenaf, Brown Indianhemp22
Humulus japonicusJapanese Hop21
Humulus lupulusHop, Common hop, European Hop,45
Senecio cannabifoliusAleutian ragwort12
Trema orientalisCharcoal Tree12
Urtica cannabina 30
Vitex cannabifolia 02


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Readers comment
Susan Sackinger   Sun Jul 3 06:50:22 2005
The immature seeds are used in tortillas.

The spherical, black, mature seeds are used as beads in jewelry, rosaries, and as spacers. It can also be shot from a BB-gun (not recommended, but tested)

   May 13 2014 12:00AM
Seeds are so hard in this plant, they were used as buckshot at one time. They are round and black, and about the size of a "BB". Plant reproduces by tuber and seed. Large leaves provide enough shade to help keep my house cool in the summertime by shading the sun hitting the brick wall. I had collected 3-4 tubers from a wild source here in South Louisiana about 15 years ago, and now they cover the backyard. I have seen red and yellow flowers.
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Subject : Canna indica  

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