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Home » Crop of the Week Archive » Edible canna (Canna edulis, Cannaceae)

Never write off a minor crop! Once a staple in prehistoric Peru but going nearly extinct there because of the inconvenience for direct use (in particular extremely long cooking time), this root crop has bounced back in the last 50 years – not in its native range, but in Vietnam and Southern China. Gels made from canna starch have extraordinary tensile strength, making it the preferred raw material of popular transparent noodles. Currently grown on some 50,000 ha of marginal land in Vietnam and China, canna allows poor farmers to derive profit from minimal investments and from land unsuited for food crops.

Edible Canna (Canna edulis) in North Vietnam

Edible Canna (Canna edulis) in North Vietnam

Canna noodles (Canna edulis)

Canna noodles (Canna edulis)

Canna starch noodles (Canna edulis)

Canna starch noodles (Canna edulis)