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Triploid forms of achira have been identified.14 Because their chromosomes cannot pair up, the plants are sterile, which is an advantage in a root crop because the plant wastes no energy producing seeds. Various kinds of polyploids should be developed by interspecific crossing between achira and closely related species, and their qualities assessed.15


Botanical Name Canna edulis Ker-Gawler

Family Cannaceae

Synonyms Canna achiras Gillies

Common Names 16

Quechua: achira

Spanish: achira; achera (Argentina and Bolivia); capacho (Venezuela); sugú, chisqua, adura (Colombia); luano (Ecuador); gruya (Puerto Rico); tolumán (Dominican Republic); tikas, punyapong, kaska, piriquitoya (Costa Rica); maraca, imocona, platanillo, cañacoros (West Indies)

Portuguese:17 merú, birú manso, bery, imbiry, araruta bastarda, bandua de Uribe

English: achira, edible canna, purple arrowroot, Queensland arrowroot

French: tous-les-mois, toloman (West Indies), Conflor (Reunion)

Bahasa (Indonesia): ganyong, lembong njeedra, seneetra

Burmese: adalut

Malay: ganyong, kenyong, ubi gereda

Tagalog (Philippines): zembu

Thai: sakhu chin

Vietnamese: dong rieng

Origin. When and where achira was domesticated is unknown, but “wild” specimens are seen throughout the midelevations of the Andes. (Most occur at the edges of moist thickets—often in ditches.)

14 The triploids are potentially valuable because their starch content is almost three times higher than normal. There is, however, no information on their yield. Information from T.N. Khoshoo.
15 Achira itself might be a mixture of diploid, triploid, and tetraploid. Information from T. Koyama.
16 The lists of common names throughout this book are included as a general guide and are not meant to be comprehensive or definitive. Also, because of the centuries-long associations among Quechua, Aymara, and Spanish, much mixing and borrowing of names has occurred. We have not attempted to sort this out.
17 Throughout this book, the Portuguese names are in most cases Brazilian.

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