Greek and Latin name for a kind of reed.
Perennial herbs with erect leafy stems and thick rhizomes. Leaves alternate, large with pinnate venation and a sheathing base. Flower clusters terminal with usually 2 flowers per bract. Flowers bisexual, irregular, mostly red, orange and yellow; summer to autumn. Sepals 3, free. Petals 3, united at the base to form a tube. Stamens 5, united at the base to form a tube. In cultivars there are 4 stamens that are sterile, petal-like and showy, the lower one, called the lip, is smaller and bent back, the 5th is fertile and has a 1-chambered anther. Ovary inferior, 3-chambered. Fruit a 3-valved warty capsule with the containing many seeds, sepals persistent.
Cannas were popular as part of the 19th century subtropical landscape style promoted by William Robinson in the UK and also popular on the continent. In Australia early introductions were few but by 1888 the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (Melbourne Gardens) listed 72 different kinds and a second wave of introduction occurred at the turn of the century. A number of cultivars were selected by a Mr Cole from Albury in about 1950 and given cultivar names with Cole as part of the name.
Cultivars by division of the rhizomes in spring when, in cool areas, they are lifted to overwinter. They are divided so that each piece has a bud.
C. edulis Ker Gawl., Achira (Queensland Arrowroot, Tous-les-Mois), which is probably a form of C. indica, has starchy edible rhizomes used for both stock and humans; the black seeds are sometimes used locally as beads.
8-10 species from the tropics, subtropics and, in particular, warm temperate Americas. Widely naturalised through the tropics.
Khoshoo (1972), Gilfedder (1991), The international cultivar register is maintained by the Royal General Bulbgrowers Association in the Netherlands.
Source: (2005). Cannaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.