Herb: Indian Shot

Latin name: Canna indica

Family: Cannaceae (Canna Family)

Medicinal use of Indian Shot:

The plant is used in the treatment of women's complaints. A decoction of the root with fermented rice is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea and amenorrhoea. The plant is also considered to be demulcent, diaphoretic and diuretic.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Original habitat is obscure, but it is found by the coast and in temperate valleys of the Andes.

Edible parts of Indian Shot:

Root - cooked. The source of "canna starch", used as an arrowroot. The arrowroot is obtained by rasping the root to a pulp, then washing and straining to get rid of the fibres. The very young tubers are eaten cooked, they are sweet but fibrousy. Roots contain about 25% starch. There is one report that this plant has an edible fruit but this is somewhat dubious, the fruit is a dry capsule containing the very hard seeds.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant yields a fibre - from the stem? - it is 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.

Propagation of Indian Shot:

Seed - pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water and sow February/March in a warm greenhouse at 20C. Plant the seeds 2 - 5cm deep in individual pots. Scarifying the seed can speed germination, especially if the seed has not swollen after being soaked. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 9 weeks. Grow the plants on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division of the root clump as the plant comes into growth in the spring. Each portion must have at least one growing point. Pot up the divisions and grow them on in the greenhouse until they are well established and then plant them out in the summer. Root cuttings.

Cultivation of the herb:

Original habitat is obscure, but it is found by the coast and in temperate valleys of the Andes.

Known hazards of Canna indica:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.