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Family Marantaceae
Maranta arundinacea Linn.
Zhu yu

Scientific names Common names 
Maranta arundinacea Linn. Araro (Tag.) 
Maranta indica Tussac. Araru (Ibn., It,, Tag.)
Maranta protracta Miq. Aroru (Tag.)
Maranta ramosissima Wall.  Aruru (Tag.) 
Maranta sylvatica Rosc.  Bai (Iv.)
Maranta variegatum N. E. Brown  Galamaka (Bon.)
  Sagu (Bik., Ilk.)
  Uraro (Tag.)
  Arrowroot (Engl.)
  Maranta (Engl.)
  Obedience plant (Engl.)
  Zhu yu (Chin.)

Other vernacular names
DANISH: Salepmaranta.
DUTCH: Pijlwortel, Salepwortel.
FRENCH: Arrowroot des Antilles, Dictame (Antilles), Herbe aux flèches, Maranta arundinacée.
GERMAN: Pfeilwurz.
HINDI: Tikhor, Tikkor.
JAPANESE: Kuzuukon, Maranta.
MALAY: Garut, Ubi bemban, Ubi garut, Yaitu garut (Indonesia).
PORTUGUESE: Agutiguepa, Araruta-comum, Araruta-especial, Araruta- palmeira, Aru-aru.
RUSSIAN: Maranta trostnikovaia, Maranty trostnikovoi.
SANSKRIT: Tavaksiri, Tugaksiri.
SPANISH: Ararú, Araruta, Caña flecha, Chuchute tamalera, Guape, Guate, Jamachipeke, Jamaichepeque, Juájuá, Juá-juá, Maranta, Rizoma de maranta, Sagú, Sagú de San Vicente, Saguero, Silú, Sucu, Sulú, Shimipampana, Tacea, Tamalera, Tubérculo de maranta, Yerén, Yuquilla.
TAMIL: Aruruttukkilangu, Kukai niru.


Gen info
• Although "Arrowroot" refers to any plant of the genus Maranta, its popular use is to describe the digestible starch from the rhizomes of the Maranta arundinacea. There is evidence to show arrowroot cultivation 7,000 years ago.
• The word may derive from (1) a corruption of the Aru-root of the Aruac Indians of South America, (2) Aru-aru. referring to the native Caribbean Arawak people's "meal of meals" for which the plant is a dietary staple, and (3) Arrowroot's use for treating poison arrow wounds.
• Year-old roots are used; and when good, contain 23% starch. After washing and clearing of paper-like scales, It is beat to a pulp through a wheel rasp. The milky fluid is passed through a coarse cloth or sieve; the resultant pure low-protein mucilaginous starch settles as an insoluble powder that is sun-dried or processed dried power to become the arrow-root of packaged or canned commerce.
(1) (2)

Araru is an erect, smooth, dichotomously branched herbaceous perennial plant 1 - 2 meters high, growing from fleshy, fusiform rootstocks. Stems are slender. Leaf blades are lanceolate, attenuate-acuminate, 10 to 20 centimeters long, thin petioled, green and rounded at the base. Inflorescence is terminal, lax, divaricate, and few-flowered. Flowers are white, about 2 centimeters long.

- Widely distributed in the Philippines in cultivation for its starch-storing rhizomes.
- Native of tropical America.
- Now pantropic.

- The tuber consists of 27% starch, 63% water, 1.56% albumin, 4.10% sugar, gum, etc., 0.26% fiber and 1.23% ash.

- Plant yields starch (27.17%), fiber, fat, albumen, sugar, gum, ash, and water (62.96%).
- Rhizome skin yields a bitter and resinous substance, removed in peeling in the preparation of arrowroot starch.
- Phytochemical screening of various extracts of rhizomes yielded flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, glycosides, steroids, phenols, cardiac glycosides, saponins, carbohydrates, and proteins. (12)

- The starch is white, odorless, tasteless.

- Starch is considered nutrient, demulcent and emollient.

- Considered to have stomachic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, sedative and digestive properties.

Parts utilized
Roots, rhizomes.

Culinary / Nutrition
- Rhizomes are edible, produce the arrowroot starch.
- Highly digestible.
- Used as thickener in making puddings, baked goods, and sauces.
- Boiled and roasted or ground and made into pastries.
- In remote barrios, starch also used for starching clothes.
- Valuable as an easily digested and nutritive and nourishing diet for the convalescing.
- Well suited for infants in the weaning from breast milk.
- A chief ingredient in infant cookies.
- Preparation: Decoction from 2-3 tablespoonfuls of root powder in one liter of water, seasoned with honey, lemon or any variety of fruit juices to taste.
- In the West Indies, roots used for poulticing poisoned and other wounds.
- Mashed roots as plaster applied to areas of insect stings and spider bites.
- Applied to the skin to soothe painful, irritated and inflamed mucous membranes.
- Roots also poulticed for poisoned arrow wounds.
- Starch used as soothing application for various skin problems: erysipelas, sunburn, wasp stings, dermatitis, and gangrene. In the Caribbean, pounded leaves used as teething aid. In Trinidad, used as anti-inflammatory skin poultice. (Duke 1985; Honychurch 1991) (16)
- The fresh juice is used as antidote for vegetable poisons.
- Used to soothe the stomach and as a remedy for diarrhea, probably from its high starch content.
- In remote Philippine barrios, starch also used for starching clothes.
- Ancient Mayans and other Central American tribes used it as antidote for poison-tipped arrows.

New uses
- Study suggests beneficial effect in the treatment of diarrhea associated with irritable bowel disease (IBS).

Enterokinase Inhibition: A study of 22 tubers and 9 pulses screened for inhibitors of enterokinase activity showed Maranta arundinacea as one of 12 tubers with inhibitory activity. M arundinacea also exhibited endogenous esterase activity towards benzoyl arginine ethyl ester. Any factor in food capable of suppressing enterokinase activity would lead to digestive disturbance comparable to enterokinase deficiency. (3)
Anti-Diarrheal: Study on the effect of boiled and cooled supernatant of arrowroot and water on children during acute diarrhea showed a decrease in cholera toxin-induced net water secretion or reversal to net absorption.(7)
Antimicrobial on Foodborne Pathogens: Study showed the water extract of Arrowroot tea at 10% greatly inhibited the microbial growth of gram-positive and gram-negative pathogens tested.(8)
Antioxidant: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract for antioxidant activity. Results showed high antiradical activity against DPPH, ABTS, hydrogen peroxide and nitric oxide radicals. The antioxidant activity was comparable to BTH. (9)

Immunomodulatory: Study evaluated the immunostimulatory effects of arrowroot extracts in vitro using animal culture techniques and in vivo using BALB/c mice. Results showed the arrowroot tuber extracts stimulated IgM and immunoglobulin production in vitro, and in vivo increased serum IgG, IgA, and IgM levels in mice. (10)
Potential Source of Ethanol: Study evaluated Uraro (Arrowroot) for its potential as source of ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Three different treatments of rhizomes and water were used. The percentage purity of the alcohol in all treatments based on 56% purity. (11)
Effect on Survival of Probiotic Bacteria in Yoghurt: Study evaluated the effect of arrowroot carbohydrates on survival of lactobacilli in bio-yoghurts. Results suugest arrowroot carbohydrates can be used to enhance the Latobacilli population in bio-yoghurt during refrigerated storage. (13)
Antimicrobial / Arrowroot:Study evaluated the antimicrobial effect of a water extract of M. arundinacea tea on foodborne pathogens in liquid medium. Cocktail of four pathogenic bacteria (E. coli, S. enteritidis, L. monocytogenes and S. aureus) was inoculated o into arrowroot tea solutions. Results showed 0.63% of Arrowroot tea was effective in inhibiting all pathogens to minimum detection limit. (14)
Biomass as Feed, Fuel and Fiber Source: A 1984 study evauated arrowroot biomass and processing residues as feed, fuel and fiber resource. Biomass and residues yielded 10.8-21.1% crude protein; 11.1-30.2 crude fiver; 3.8-17.0% ash; with an invitro dry matter digestibility of 38.5-60.3%. Study identified the fuel alcohol production potential from yeast-supplemented aerial biomass. Coarse residue showed qualities suited to tear-resistant specialty grade papers. Besides utilization of by-products as food,fuel, and fiber resource, it can also help reduce environmental pollution resulting from direct discharge of unused by-products. (15)

- Wild-crafted.
- Cultivated for arrowroot starch.
- Starch and flour products in the cybermarket.

Last Updated October 2014

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) / Natural Standard
Arrowroot / Encyclopedia / NationMaster
Enzyme inhibitors from plants: Enterokinase inhibitors in tubers and seeds / P. GOPALAKRISHNA BHAT et al / J. Biosci., Vol. 3, Number 4, December 1981, pp. 371378.
Maranta.—Arrow-Root / Henriette's Herbal Homepage
Arrowroot / Botanical: Maranta arundinaceae (LINN.) / A Modern Herbal / Mrs. M Grieve
Sorting Maranta names / Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database
Diarrheal Diseases Research / Google Books / March 1991
Antimicrobial effect of water extract of Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) tea on foodborne pathogens in liquid medium / S Kim, DYC Fung / Session 29F, Food Microbiology: Control of foodborne microorganisms by antimicrobials
Antioxidant Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Maranta arundinacea L. Tuberous Rhizomes
/ Nishaa S, Vishnupriya M, Sasikumar J M, et al / Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, Vo 5, No4, June 4, 2012.
Evaluation of immunostimulatory effect of the arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea. L) in vitro and in vivo / Ika Dyah Kumalasari, Eni Harmayani, Lily Arsanti Lestari, Sri Raharjo, Widya Asmara, Kosuke Nishi, and Takuya Sugahara / Cytotechnology. 2012 March; 64(2): 131–137 / doi: 10.1007/s10616-011-9403-4
Ethanol from arrow root (Maranta Arundinacea Linn) / SCINET Phil. / (S-14);29p.
Phytochemical Screening and GC-MS Analysis of Ethanolic Extract of Rhizomes of Maranta arundinacea L
. /
Nishaa S, Vishnupriya M, Sasikumar JM, and Gopalakrishnan VK * / Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences, Apr-June 2013, Vol 4, Issue 2.
The Effect of Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) Extract on the Survival of Probiotic Bacteria in Set Yoghurt
/ Nishani Abesinghe, Janak Vidanarachchi, Saliya Silva / International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 2, Issue 5, May 2012
Antimicrobial effect of water extract of Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) tea on foodborne pathogens in liquid medium / S. KIM and D. Y. C. Fung. / Session 29F, Food Microbiology: Control of foodborne microorganisms by antimicrobials / 2003 IFT Annual Meeting - Chicago
Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea), food, feed, fuel, and fiber resource / M. D. Erdman, B. A. Erdman / Economic Botany, July/September 1984, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 332-341
Bermuda or West Indian Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) / Cheryll Williams / Medicinal Plants in Australia Volume 3: Plants, Potions and Poisons / Google Books

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