Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) has large tuberous roots, 8-14 inches long which are peeled, pulped and dried to produce the fine white powder of the same name.
Arrowroot has almost no flavor of its own and will keep for several years.
The name arrowroot is also applied to the edible starch produced from several other plant rhizomes, such as those in the genera Canna and Tacca.
With prolonged cooking, arrowroot does not thin out as much as other starches.
The arrowroot plant is native to the West Indies and Central America; it belongs to the same family as ginger. It was used by the original inhabitants of the area and it served as food but seems to have first been used for religious and medicinal purposes. The Indians used it in wounds inflicted by poison arrows-hence its name. Jamaica was once a producer and exporter of arrowroot. Nowadays it is used in face powers, glues, confectionery, ice-cream cones and paper and textiles.
Jamaica Tourist Board
Arrowroot is also the name of the edible starch produced from the rhizomes of the arrowroot plant. The fine, white powder is used as a thickener in cooking. It is the most easily digestible of the cooking starches, and has about twice the thickening power as flour. It produces a clear sauce with a glossy finish, excellent for fruit glazes and light savory sauces.