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arrowroot, any plant of the genus Maranta, usually large perennial herbs, of the family Marantaceae, found chiefly in warm, swampy forest habitats of the Americas and sometimes cultivated for their ornamental leaves. The term arrowroot is also used for the easily digestible starch obtained from the rhizomes of M. arundinacea, the true, or West Indian, arrowroot, which is naturalized in Florida. Other plants produce similar starches, e.g., East Indian arrowroot (from Curcuma angustifolia of the Zingiberaceae, or ginger family), Queensland arrowroot (from a canna of the family Cannaceae), Brazilian arrowroot, or tapioca, of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family), and Florida arrowroot, or sago. True arrowroot is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Zingiberales, family Marantaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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