Maranta is a genus of flowering plants in the family Marantaceae, native to tropical Central and South America, and the West Indies. Maranta was named for Bartolomeo Maranta, an Italian physician and botanist of the sixteenth century.
About 20 species are usually recognised. They all have rhizomes and naturally form perennial clumps. The crowded oval, evergreen leaves are undivided with sheathing stalks. The leaves are flat by day and folded up erect in the evening, hence the common name "prayer plant" which attaches to the genus and its species - notably M. leuconeura. The flowers are small with three petals and two larger petal-like staminodes.
Maranta arundinacea is cultivated to produce the edible starch arrowroot. Some species such as Maranta leuconeura (prayer plant) and M. arundinacea are grown as common houseplants in a warmish house or conservatory environment. They can be propagated through cuttings (2 - 3 leaves) or by root division.
- "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families".
- RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
- "World Checklist of Selected Plant Species, general search".
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