CANNA edulis - QUEENSLAND ARROWROOT
- An edible canna growing to 2 metres, used to be grown commercially for starch before cassava\tapioca came to prominence. Corms can be eaten
boiled or baked. The starch that can be washed out of the grated or pounded corms can be
used to make cakes or as a thickener. Young shoots can be used as a vegetable and immature
seeds are used in South America to make a type of Tortillas. Can be grown as a lush leafy
screen, though frost will set it back in winter when the corms are ripe for harvesting.
Corms $5 each.
COLOCASIA esculenta - TARO - syn. Elephant
Ears, Coco Yam. Grown widely in the Pacific & Asia for its starchy corms (often called
tubers). The corms can be eaten boiled, steamed or fried, in soups & stews, made into
puddings or pounded into dumplings. On Pacific Islands they are fermented into a starchy
mass called 'Poi'. Different varieties can be grown in wetland or upland culture. Frost
will kill leaves but plants revive in spring, the corms will take longer to mature in
cooler areas. We grow all our varieties on pond edges or in well watered garden plots. We
don't have names for our varieties as yet, they are numbered and described below. Small
tubers $5 each.
var. No.1 - Petiole (leaf stalk) purple at the base. The
dot (on top of the leaf above the petiole) is white. (corm) flesh white with cream fibres.
var. No.2 - Petiole green grading to purple at the top,
purple dot, flesh white with purple fibres.
var. No.3 - Petiole purple at the top, dot purple, flesh
white with cream fibres.
var. No.4 - Petiole light or yellowish green, dot white,
MANIHOT esculenta - CASSAVA - An attractive
shrub growing to 2m. An important carbohydrate food grown in the tropics on land too dry
for rice. Survives light frosts. Young leaves can be eaten cooked, fat tuberous roots are
eaten boiled, fried, baked or made into flour. The refined starch is known as 'Tapioca' is
used as a thickener. Stem cuttings which strike readily in warm weather are available all
year but best purchased in late winter to Jan. $2 each.
XANTHOSOMA sagittifolium - TANNIA - A Taro
like plant but different in that sucker cormels are eaten rather than the mother corm,
leaves are generally larger with more prominent veins. The 'V' of the arrowhead shaped
leaf extends to the petiole. Requiring good moisture to do well but not grown in flooded
soils. Corms are baked, boiled or fried and are excellent eating. Young leaves &
petioles are cooked and eaten like spinach. Available all year $5 for corms or
POLYMNIA sonchifolia - YACON - A South
American annual growing to about a metre. Yields delicious, large, sweet fleshy roots that
can be eaten on their own or added to salads. A sweet juice that can be extracted from the
grated pulp makes a refreshing drink or can be reduced to a form of sugar. Corms from
which the roots grow are only available during dormancy from June till 31st of September.
PIPER sarmentosum - BETEL LEAVES - Chaa
puu noo, phak phiuu nok, pblug ring, ye-thoei (Thai), LA LOT (Vietnamese)
Herbaceous plant, creeping or erect, up to 60 cm high, Cultivated in India and SE
Asia as spice and medicine. In Thailand the young leaves are eaten raw or cooked. They are
used raw to wrap ginger, peanuts, roasted coconut meat, dried shrimp, chilli, shallots,
lime and, sweet coconut meat sauce to make miang kam bai chaa phluu, a kind of snack. The
leaves are also mixed in khaao yam, blanched as a vegetable or put into curries. See
also a Vietnamese recipe. The whole plant
is a carminative. The roots or fruit help to cure dysentery, while the crushed roots and
leaves are combined with salt to ease toothaches. Available all year but best
purchased in warmer months. $10 each.