Heirloom Plant. Carefree. Lush leaves. Vivid Flowers. Pollinator Magnet. Shelter plant. Edible. Medicinal. Dyes. Used to make many other things. Sun/Shade Wet/Dry Salt Water Tolerant. Deer Baffle. Propagation Source: Naturalized Population, Beaufort Co., SC.
Carefree Heirloom plant. Naturalizes in gardens. Does not became invasive in Southeastern US. Though planted here for Lush Leaves and Red Flowers has many uses for wildlife and people. ( I learned a whole lot researching this entry).
Larval host of Brazilian Skipper and Canna Moth. Flowers attract Gulf Fritillary and Sulfur Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Bees. The rolled leaves hold water for thirst animals. They are the treefrogs favorite hiding place. Mother birds collect nesting material and bugs for their babies from them. Birds are reported to disperse the seeds.
Roots, shoots, flowers and young seeds are edible. Native to the American Tropics, Spanish explorers reported Canna indica (Achira) as one of the main root crops grown by South American Natives. The leaves, rhizomes, shoots, flowers and seeds are edible. They are cultivated for food, tamale wrappers, biodegredable plants, starch and alcohol throughout the tropics now. The flowers are beautiful in salad. Cultivated as food throughout the tropics now. Roots (Starch, Cooked Vegetable, Alcohol), Shoots, Leaves and Flowers are all edible. They are also used medicinally. A Thai herbal doctor living in Beaufort in the early ’90s told me she used the leaves to wrap feverish babies. I have attached a link detailing many other medicinal uses.
Leaves are used as fodder for animals. Fibers can be made into paper or cordage. Seeds used for jewelry, musical instruments, bird shot and dyes. (Haley and I used to squeeze the seeds between our fingers to shoot each other). Burning leaves repel insects. They tolerate many contaminants and are able to take up large amounts of nutrients making them perfect for the rain garden.
They grow tallest (6 feet) in moist soil and bloom best when planted in full sun. They grow 2 to 3 feet tall in the packed soil along the edge of my driveway and still bloom under my pecan trees. They grow great in high calcium soils, but do not demand it. They tolerate infrequent salt flooding. If the soil is dry and salt sits on them. the leaves will burn a little. Cut them back.. they will recover quickly. In moist soil where the salt water does not sit on them, they do not burn. They are not only deer-resistant. They are a great deer baffle. Interplant them with tastier plants and they will protect them from deer. Except for very cold spells, they bloom pretty much year round in Coastal SC. For optimum blooming. Cut stalks down as flowers fade. Toss old stems under shrubbery, they make a great moisture holding mulch.
They are naturalized in VA, NC, GA, FL, AL, LA, and TX. (probably MS too.) We propagated ours from one that were growing on the property when I moved here in 1996. They had been planted here by the Gullah family who had lived here from the 1860’s until Hurricane Gracie damaged their home in 1959. (They had not received any care for at least 37 years. (If you kill them, you have talent.) I suspect that they had originally planted on the gardens of the plantation which was divided and sold to the former slaves in the 1860’s. The flowers were the only they received they received for their work. Although, they can live in pots for years, nursery space is limited. We only pot up a few plants at a time. Please notify ahead of your order, so that we can get them ready for you.
An article about Canna indica as tamale wrapper