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Arrowroot

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Arrowroot
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Subkingdom:Magnoliophyta
Class:Liliopsida
Subclass:Zingiberidae
Order:Zingiberales
Family:Marantaceae
Genus:Maranta
Species:M. arundinacea

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

Arrowroot, or obedience plant, (Maranta arundinacea) is a large perennial herb of genus Maranta found in rainforest habitats. Arrowroot is also the name for the easy-to-digest starch from the rhizomes (rootstock) of West Indian arrowroot. This plant should not be confused with Sagittaria species sometimes called "arrowhead" and used as a root vegetable.

The plant is naturalized in Florida, but it is chiefly cultivated in the West Indies (Jamaica and St. Vincent), Australia, Southeast Asia, and South Africa. Because of this, Napoleon supposedly said the real reason for the British love of arrowroot was to support their colonies. The rootstock is successively grated, washed, and sieved, until only the pure low-protein mucilaginous starch remains. Most starch sold today as arrowroot is actually cassava flour, which does not have the same gelling and nutritional properties. Kudzu flour has also been described as arrowroot.

Archaeological studies in the Americas show evidence of arrowroot cultivation as early as 7,000 years ago. The name may come from the native Caribbean Arawak people's aru-aru (meal of meals), for which the plant is a staple. It has also been suggested that the name comes from arrowroot's use in treating poison arrow wounds.

In the early days of carbonless forms, arrowroot, because of its fine grain size, was a widely used ingredient. After an economical way of centrifugally separating wheat flour was devised, arrowroot lost its role in papermaking.

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