Dictionary > Arrowroot


An arrowroot refers to the starchy substance from the rhizomes of various plant species. The term came from Arawak aru-aru, which means “meal of meals”. Its name is attributed to the plant’s “roots” (which are actually rhizomes) that are used to neutralize the venom on wounds made by poisoned darts and arrows.
The term may also be used to pertain to the plant itself. Maranta arundinacea, a West Indian plant of the taxonomic family Marantaceae, is a perennial herb native to Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and South America. It is one of the earliest plants that have been domesticated for food. The edible part is the rhizome, which is fleshy, cylindrical, and size ranging from 20 cm to 45 cm. This plant species is the traditional source of starch.
Apart from M. arundinacea, other plant species that are being referred to as arrowroots are:

  • Achillea millefolium, the yarrow
  • Colocasia esculenta, the arrowroot in East Africa
  • Curcuma angustifolia, the arrowroot in India
  • Manihot esculenta (cassava), the source of tapioca
  • Pueraria montana var. lobata, the Japanese arrowroot or kudzu
  • Tacca leontopetaloides, the Polynesian arrowroot
  • Thalia geniculata, in tropical Africa and the Americas
  • Zamia integrifolia, the Florida arrowroot

Variant: arrow-root.

See also


  1. arrow-root Origin and meaning of arrow-root by Online Etymology Dictionary. (2019). Retrieved from Etymonline.com website: https://www.etymonline.com/word/arrow-root

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