Maranta is a genus in the Marantaceae family originating mostly from the tropical Americas. Many of the species grow from perennial rhizomes with tubers. Some of the plants are grown as houseplants and the root of another is used as the source of arrow root, a powder used as a source of thickening in cooking.
Maranta arundinacea tubers are the source of arrowroot. Plants grow quite tall, 5-6 feet (about 1.5 meters). The perennial rhizome has numerous fleshy, scaly tubers growing from the crown. It has large ovate spreading leaves and a few white flowers and is found from Mexico to tropical America.
Maranta leuconeura is a small tropical plant that is native to Brazil. It is grown as a house plant and has attractive leaves that fold up at night. For this reason it is known by the common name, Prayer Plant. It flowers in spring and has small white flowers that are not very showy. I received this plant as a gift more than twenty years ago. I’ve rarely repotted it and leave it in my bathroom where it seems quite happy. In winter I cut the drying leaves off and new ones soon appear. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner. The last shows the rhizome and tubers on a 1 cm. grid with a new shoot.