The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Wild Canna

Afrikaans name: Tuinkanna

The Wild Canna is not indigenous to South Africa

Photo © Steven Herbert

Canna indica

Wild Cannas originate from tropical America and are not indigenous to South Africa. They occur naturally in countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina as well as the Central American countries. Today the Canna has spread to many countries of the world.

It is a popular plant in many gardens in South Africa and can be found in a variety of colours. This is despite this plant being categorised as an invader species in South Africa. They pose a threat to indigenous species in marshy area and other waterways.

For thousands of years the people of South America have eaten Cannas. It didn’t form a major part of their diet, but various parts of the plant are edible, and they are still eaten today.

This plant grows to a height of around 1.5 metres. The leaves grow to about 45 cm in length. The flowers of the Wild Canna, in South Africa, are orangey-red in colour and attract some sunbirds. Gardeners and farmers propagate Cannas by putting the rhizomes in the ground.

Besides their food value it is interesting that in China they are making biodegradable plastics from Cannas. The starch from the plant is combined with polyethylene in the manufacturing process.

References and further reading

The Gardener - 2022/01 - Author: - Published: 2022 - Page: 30

Wild About Johannesburg - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 1995 - Page: 109

The Gardener - 2015/11 - Author: - Published: 2015 - Page: 20

A Photographic Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa - Author: Braam van Wyk - Published: 2000 - Page: 80

A Field Guide to Wild Flowers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 2005 - Page: 48


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