Botanical name: Tacca leontopetaloides Family: Dioscoreaceae (Yam family)
Synonyms: Tacca hawaiiensis, Tacca involucrata, Tacca pinnatifida
Fiji Arrowroot is a perennial herb naturally distributed from western Africa through southeast Asia to northern Australia. The leaf's upper surface has depressed veins, and the under surface is shiny with bold yellow veins. Greenish purple flowers are borne on tall stalks in clusters, with long trailing whisker-like bracts. The plant is usually dormant for part of the year and dies down to the ground. Later, new leaves will arise from the round underground tuber. The tubers are hard and potato-like, with a brown skin and white interior. The tubers of Polynesian arrowroot contain starch that was an important food source for many Pacific Island cultures, primarily for the inhabitants of low islands and atolls. Polynesian arrowroot was prepared into a flour to make a variety of puddings.
Medicinal uses: In traditional Hawaiian medicine the raw tubers were eaten to treat stomach ailments. Mixed with water and red clay, the plant was consumed to treat diarrhea and dysentery. This combination was also used to stop internal hemorrhaging in the stomach and colon and applied to wounds to stop bleeding.
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