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Calathea allouia - (Aubl.) Lindl.

Common Name Sweetcorn Root, Guinea Arrowroot
Family Marantaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Moist or wet, mixed forest, at elevations of 1,400 meters or less, most frequent at low elevations[ 331 ].
Range S. America, north to Mexico and the Caribbean.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Calathea allouia Sweetcorn Root, Guinea Arrowroot

Calathea allouia Sweetcorn Root, Guinea Arrowroot


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Sweetcorn Root or Calathea allouia is a tropical, perennial plant that grows up tp 1.5 m tall. It is native to northern South America and the Caribbean. Other common names include Guinea arrowroot, Alleluia, and Aria. Tuberous and egg shaped roots have high starch content and are consumed when cooked. Young tender flower spikes are also cooked. The leaves are large and used as tamales wrap. The flowers are white and in spiral.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Calathea allouia is an evergreen Perennial growing to 2 m (6ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Maranta allouia Aubl.; Phrynium allouia Aubl.; Also as Allouya americana (Lamk.); Curcuma americana

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root
Edible Uses:

Edible portion: Tubers, Root, Flowers, Leaves - flavour, Vegetable. Root - cooked[ 46 ]. Rich in starch[ 317 ]. The crisp cooked tubers are very agreeable with a flavour like sweetcorn[ 301 ]. It is used in salads, stews and fish dishes. Their unique texture makes them a gourmet item[ 301 ]. Used in similar ways to potatoes[ 200 ]. A commercially cultivated vegetable. The tubers are 2 - 8cm long and 2 - 4cm in diameter[ 418 ]. Young tender flower spikes - cooked[ 301 , 331 ]. The leaves are used for wrapping tamales and other foods, to which they impart flavour[ 301 , 331 ]. Tubers are 6.6% protein on a dry matter basis.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Other uses rating: Low (1/5). In former times, the plant played a more important role for making blankets, mattresses, pillows, baskets and umbrellas[ 317 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant mainly of the moist, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,400 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 31c, but can tolerate 16 - 35c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 2,800mm[ 418 ]. Grows best in full sun or light shade[ 418 ]. Prefers a moist, humus-rich, freely-draining soil[ 200 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5.5 - 7.5[ 418 ]. Crops are produced in about 9 - 14 months from planting out the roots[ 418 ]. Tuber yields of 2 - 15 tonnes/ha have been reported[ 418 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - Division of tubers Cuttings of basal shoots.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Sweetcorn Root or Calathea allouia. Other Names: Agua bendita, Allelouia, Alleluia, Aria, Cocurito, Curcuma d'Amerique, Dale dale, Dali dali, Guinea arrowroot, Lairem, Laren, Leren, Lerenes, Lleren, Sweet corn root, Sweet-corm-root, Topee Tambu, Topi-tambu, Topinambour.

Found In: Africa, Amazon, Antilles, Asia, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Africa, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guiana, Guyana, Haiti, Hispaniola, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, North Africa, North America, Pacific, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, South America, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Indies.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Aubl.) Lindl.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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