/ar"oh rooht', -root'/, n.
1. a tropical American plant, Maranta arundinacea, the rhizomes of which yield a nutritious starch.
2. the starch itself.
3. any of several other plants yielding a similar starch.
4. the starch of these plants, used in cooking as a binder or thickener.
[1690-1700; so called from use of its root in treatment of wounds made by poisoned arrows]

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Any of several plant species of the genus Maranta (family Marantaceae), whose rhizomes yield an edible starch.

Chief among these is the herbaceous perennial M. arundinacea, the source of genuine, or West Indies, arrowroot. The powder obtained from the harvested roots is almost pure starch; it is used in cookery as a thickener. Arrowroot is easily digested and is used in diets requiring bland, low-salt, and low-protein foods. Its name is sometimes applied to starches obtained from other plants and used as substitutes for true arrowroot. Brazilian arrowroot, from the cassava plant, is the source of tapioca.

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 any of several species of the genus Maranta, members of the family Marantaceae (q.v.), the rhizomes, or rootstocks, of which yield an edible starch; the chief among these is M. arundinacea, the source of genuine, or West Indies, arrowroot. This herbaceous perennial, probably a native of Guyana and western Brazil, is cultivated throughout the West Indies, Southeast Asia, Australia, and South Africa. Its creeping rootstock has fleshy tubers (underground storage organs), and its many-branched stem, reaching a height of 5–6 feet (about 1.5 metres), bears numerous leaves, having long narrow sheaths and large spreading ovate blades, and a few short-stalked white flowers. Plants are harvested when the tubers are gorged with starch, just before the plant's dormant season. The roots are peeled and then grated in water. The resulting mixture is dried to a powder and purified by several washings.

      Arrowroot, almost pure starch, supplies no vitamins and contains only 0.2 percent protein. In cookery, it is used as a thickener in soups, sauces, puddings, and desserts. When boiled in water, it yields a transparent, odourless, pleasant-tasting jelly. Its fine texture allows cooking at lower temperatures and for shorter periods than other starches, making it especially suitable for such egg preparations as custards, which are adversely affected by overcooking. Arrowroot is easily digested and is used in diets requiring bland, low-salt, and low-protein foods.

      The name arrowroot is sometimes applied to starches obtained from other plants and used as substitutes for true arrowroot. Tous-les-mois, or Tulema arrowroot, a larger grained product, comes from another West Indies plant, a species of Canna, a genus allied to the Maranta. East India arrowroot is a product of several species of the genus Curcuma, of the family Zingiberaceae, chiefly C. angustifolia, native to central India. Brazilian arrowroot, from the cassava plant (Manihot esculenta), is the source of tapioca. Tacca, or Otaheite arrowroot, comes from the pia plant (Tacca pinnatifida) of the South Pacific islands. Portland arrowroot, once manufactured in Portland, Dorset, Eng., is derived from tubers of the common cuckoopint (Arum maculatum), and other Arum species are important food starch sources in hot countries. Potato farina, sometimes marketed as British arrowroot, has been used to adulterate more costly preparations.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Arrowroot — Ar row*root , n. 1. (Bot.) A white flowered west Indian plant of the genus {Maranta}, esp. {Maranta arundinacea}, now cultivated in many hot countries. Its root yields {arrowroot starch}. It said that the Indians used the roots to neutralize the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Arrowroot — (engl., spr. arro rūt, »Pfeilwurz«), meist aus knolligen Wurzelstöcken tropischer und subtropischer Pflanzen hergestellte reine Stärkesorten, hauptsächlich das Stärkemehl mehrerer Maranta Arten, besonders M. arundinacea, das als westindisches… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Arrowroot — (engl., spr. ärroruht), Pfeilwurzelmehl, Stärkemehl aus den Wurzelknollen mehrerer trop. Pflanzen, so der westind. Pfeilwurzel, Maranta arundinacea L. (westind. A. oder Marantastärke), von Curcuma angustifolia und leucorrhiza Roxb. (ostind. A.… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

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  • arrowroot — (n.) 1690s, from ARROW (Cf. arrow) + ROOT (Cf. root) (n.). So called because it was used to absorb toxins from poison dart wounds …   Etymology dictionary

  • arrowroot — ► NOUN ▪ a plant that yields a fine grained starch used in cookery and medicine. ORIGIN from an Arawak word meaning meal of meals , by association with ARROW(Cf. ↑arrowed) and ROOT(Cf. ↑rootless), the plant s tubers being used to absorb poison… …   English terms dictionary

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  • arrowroot — ar·row·root (ăr’ō ro͞ot′, ro͝ot′) n. 1) a) A starch obtained from the rhizomes of a tropical American perennial herb (Maranta arundinacea). It is used especially in cooking as a thickener. b) The rhizome of this plant, cooked and eaten as a… …   Word Histories

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