Wednesday, June 23, 2010
For the Love of the Canna
I am blessed with hundreds of canna that grow along my back fence. Here is some interesting information about the canna.
The canna rhizome is rich in starch, and it has many uses in agriculture. All of the plant has commercial value, rhizomes for starch (consumption by humans and livestock), stems and foliage for animal fodder, young shoots as a vegetable and young seeds as an addition to tortillas.
The seeds are used as beads in jewelry.
The seeds are used as the mobile elements of the kayamb, a musical instrument from Réunion, as well as the hosho, a gourd rattle from Zimbabwe, where the seeds are known as "hota" seeds.
In more remote regions of India, cannas are fermented to produce alcohol.
The plant yields a fibre - from the stem - it is used as a jute substitute.
A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making paper. 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.
A purple dye is obtained from the seed.
Smoke from the burning leaves is said to be insecticidal.
Cannas are used to extract many undesirable pollutants in a wetland environment as they have a high tolerance to contaminants.