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Marantaceae

Marantaceae

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The Marantaceae or arrowroot family is a family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of flowering plants known for its large starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

y rhizomes. It is sometimes called the prayer-plant family. Combined morphological
Morphology (biology)
In biology, morphology is a branch of bioscience dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features....

 and DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 phylogenetic analyses indicate the family originated in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, although this is not the center of its extant diversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

.

Taxonomy


The APG II system
APG II system
The APG II system of plant classification is the second, now obsolete, version of a modern, mostly molecular-based, system of plant taxonomy that was published in April 2003 by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. It was a revision of the first APG system, published in 1998, and was superseded in 2009...

, of 2003 (unchanged from the APG system
APG system
The APG system of plant classification is the first, now obsolete, version of a modern, mostly molecular-based, system of plant taxonomy that was published in 1998 by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. It was superseded in 2003 by a revision, the APG II system, and then in 2009 by a further...

, 1998), also recognizes this family, and assigns it to the order Zingiberales
Zingiberales
Zingiberales is an order of flowering plants. The order has been widely recognised by the taxonomists, at least for the past few decades. This order includes many familiar plants like ginger, cardamom, turmeric, galangal and myoga of the Zingiberaceae or ginger family, and bananas and plantains...

 in the clade commelinids
Commelinids
In plant taxonomy, commelinids is a name used by the APG III system for a clade within the monocots, which in its turn is a clade within the angiosperms. The commelinids are the only clade that the APG has informally named within the monocots...

 in the monocots. The Marantaceae are considered the most evolved family in this group due to the extreme reduction in both stamens and carpels.

The family consists of 30(-1) with about 350(-500+) species according to Flowering Plants of the World), found in the tropical areas of the world except in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. The biggest concentration is in the America, with seven genera in Africa, and six in Asia.

The plants usually have underground rhizomes or tubers. The leaves
Leaves
-History:Vocalist Arnar Gudjonsson was formerly the guitarist with Mower, and he was joined by Hallur Hallsson , Arnar Ólafsson , Bjarni Grímsson , and Andri Ásgrímsson . Late in 2001 they played with Emiliana Torrini and drew early praise from the New York Times...

 are arranged in two rows with the petioles
Petiole (botany)
In botany, the petiole is the stalk attaching the leaf blade to the stem. The petiole usually has the same internal structure as the stem. Outgrowths appearing on each side of the petiole are called stipules. Leaves lacking a petiole are called sessile, or clasping when they partly surround the...

 having a sheathing base. The leaf
Leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 blade is narrow or broad with pinnate
Pinnate
Pinnate is a term used to describe feather-like or multi-divided features arising from both sides of a common axis in plant or animal structures, and comes from the Latin word pinna meaning "feather", "wing", or "fin". A similar term is pectinate, which refers to a comb-like arrangement of parts...

 veins running parallel to the midrib. The petiole
Petiole (botany)
In botany, the petiole is the stalk attaching the leaf blade to the stem. The petiole usually has the same internal structure as the stem. Outgrowths appearing on each side of the petiole are called stipules. Leaves lacking a petiole are called sessile, or clasping when they partly surround the...

 may be winged, and swollen into a pulvinus
Pulvinus
A pulvinus is a joint-like thickening at the base of a plant leaf or leaflet that facilitates growth-independent movement. It consists of a core of vascular tissue within a flexible, bulky cylinder of thin-walled parenchyma cells...

 at the base.
The inflorescence
Inflorescence
An inflorescence is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches. Strictly, it is the part of the shoot of seed plants where flowers are formed and which is accordingly modified...

 is a spike or panicle
Panicle
A panicle is a compound raceme, a loose, much-branched indeterminate inflorescence with pedicellate flowers attached along the secondary branches; in other words, a branched cluster of flowers in which the branches are racemes....

, enclosed by spathe-like bracts. The flowers are small and often inconspicuous, irregular and bisexual usually with an outer three free sepals and an inner series of three petaloid-like segments, tube-like in appearance.
The fruit is either fleshy or a loculicidal capsule.

Economic Uses


The most well known species in the family is arrowroot
Arrowroot
Arrowroot, or obedience plant , Bermuda arrowroot, araru, ararao, is a large perennial herb found in rainforest habitats...

 (Maranta arundinacea), a plant of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, grown in parts of the Caribbean, Australasia
Australasia
Australasia is a region of Oceania comprising Australia, New Zealand, the island of New Guinea, and neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term was coined by Charles de Brosses in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes...

, and Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 for its easily digestible starch. It is grown commercially in the West Indies and tropical Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

.

Several species of genus Calathea
Calathea
Calathea is a genus of plants belonging to the family Marantaceae. There are several dozen species in this genus. Native to the tropical Americas, many of the species are popular as pot plants due to their decorative leaves and, in some species, colorful inflorescences. They are commonly called...

are grown as houseplants for their large ornamental leaves, which are variegated
Variegation
Variegation is the appearance of differently coloured zones in the leaves, and sometimes the stems, of plants. This may be due to a number of causes...

 in shades of green, white and pink. Other genera grown for houseplants includes Stromanthe
Stromanthe
Stromanthe is a genus of plant in family Marantaceae. It contains the following species :* Stromanthe ramosissima, L.Andersson* Stromanthe porteana* Stromanthe sanguinea...

and Maranta
Maranta (genus)
Maranta, is a genus of evergreen low growing plants native to tropical areas such as Southwest Asia, and the West Indies. The genus is part of the Marantaceae family which also contains other genera such as Calathea and Stromanthe. Maranta was named for Bartolommeo Maranti, an Italian physician and...

.

Calathea discolor has tough, durable leaves used to make waterproof baskets, and in the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, the leaves of Calathea lutea are used for roofing. Two Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 species - C. macrosepala and C. violacea - have flowers that are cooked and used as vegetables. C. allouia, from the West Indies is known as Sweet Corn Root and has an edible tuber.

External links




  • Ed., V.H. Heywood, Flowering Plants of the World, Oxford Univ. Press (1978)
  • Lennart Andersson, The neotropical genera of Marantaceae. Circumscription and relationships, Nordic Journal of Botany, Volume 1 Issue 2, Pages 218 - 245 (2008)