Canna is the only genus in the family Cannaceae. The APG II system of 2003 assigns it to the clade commelinids in the monocots.
Plants have large foliage and horticulturists have turned it into a large-flowered garden plant. It is also used in agriculture as a rich source of starch for human and animal consumption.
Although a plant of the tropics most cultivars have been developed in temperate climates and are easy to grow in most countries of the world as long as they receive at least 6–8 hours average sunlight during the summer and are moved to a warm location for the winter. See the Canna cultivar gallery for photographs of Canna cultivars.
The plants are large tropical and subtropical perennial herbs with a rhizomatous rootstock. The broad flat alternate leaves that are such a feature of this plant grow out of a stem in a long narrow roll and then unfurl. The leaves are typically solid green but some cultivars have glaucose brownish maroon or even variegated leaves.
The flowers are composed of three sepals and three petals that are seldom noticed by people they are small and hidden under extravagant stamens. What appear to be petals are the highly modified stamens or staminodes. The staminodes number 3 with at least one staminodal member called the labellum always being present. A specialized staminode the stamen bears pollen from a half-anther. A somewhat narrower petal is the pistil which is connected down to a three-chambered ovary.
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