''Canna'' (or canna lily, although not a true lily) is a genus of 19 species of flowering plants.〔〔〔The Cannaceae of the World, H. Maas-van der Kamer & P.J.M. Maas, BLUMEA 53: 247-318〕 The closest living relations to cannas are the other plant families of the order Zingiberales, that is the Zingiberaceae (gingers), Musaceae (bananas), Marantaceae, Heliconiaceae, Strelitziaceae, etc.〔
''Canna'' is the only genus in the family Cannaceae. The APG II system of 2003 also recognizes the family, and assigns it to the order Zingiberales in the clade commelinids, in the monocots.
The species have large, attractive foliage, and horticulturists have turned it into a large-flowered and bright garden plant. In addition, it is one of the world's richest starch sources, and is an agricultural plant.〔Khoshoo, T.N. & Guha, I. - Origin and Evolution of Cultivated Cannas. Vikas Publishing House〕
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 name ''Canna'' originates from the Latin word for a cane or reed.〔"canna, n.1." OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2014. Web. 16 August 2014.〕
== Botany ==
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 (1–) 3 (–4) (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.〔
The flowers are typically red, orange, or yellow or any combination of those colours, and are aggregated in inflorescences that are spikes or panicles (thyrses). Although gardeners enjoy these odd flowers, nature really intended them to attract pollinators collecting nectar and pollen, such as bees, hummingbirds, sunbirds, and bats. The pollination mechanism is conspicuously specialized. Pollen is shed on the style while still in the bud, and in the species and early hybrids some is also found on the stigma because of the high position of the anther, which means that they are self-pollinating. Later cultivars have a lower anther, and rely on pollinators alighting on the labellum and touching first the terminal stigma, and then the pollen.〔
The wild species often grow to at least in height, but there is a wide variation in size among cultivated plants; numerous cultivars have been selected for smaller stature.〔
Cannas grow from swollen underground stems, correctly known as rhizomes, which store starch, and this is the main attraction of the plant to agriculture, having the largest starch particles of all plant life.〔
''Canna'' is the only member of the Liliopsida class (monocot group) in which hibernation of seed is known to occur, due to its hard, impenetrable seed covering.〔Grootjen, C. J. and F. Bouman. 1988. Seed structure in Cannaceae〕〔Lerman, J. C. and E. M. Cigliano. 1971. New carbon-14 evidence for six hundred years old ''Canna compacta'' seed〕
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