Indian Shot (a popular name for species of canna, especially C. Indica, which was for a long time the only one generally cultivated. Canna (from the Celtic cann, a cane) was formerly placed in the same family with the ginger and the banana, but botanists now make an order, the cannaceae, which includes this, the arrowroot, and some other less known plants. The cannas have large, fleshy root stocks, tall stems, clothed with large showy leaves, and bearing at the summit a spike of often handsome flowers of various shades of yellow, scarlet, and crimson; the flowers are irregular in structure; they have three outer colored divisions or calyx, within which are three parts corresponding to a corolla with a single stamen which has a petal-like filament and bears an anther on its margin; pistil with a petallike style and a three-celled ovary, which in ripening becomes a several-seeded very rough pod; the seeds are round, hard, and black, and sufficiently shot-like in appearance to warrant the common name. One species, G. flac-cida, is found in swamps along the coast from South. Carolina southward; it grows 4 ft. high and has yellow flowers 3 or 4 in. long.
The tubers of some species are edible and used as a table vegetable, while others have slight medicinal properties; the kind of arrowroot called tons les mois, chiefly used by the French, is made in the island of St. Christopher from the rhizomes of a canna, supposed to be C. edulis. The great interest possessed by the cannas is due to their effectiveness as decorative plants. Since beauty of form and stateliness of habit have come to be properly appreciated in gardening, great improvement has been made in cannas, and cultivators, especially those in the south of France, have by hybridizing and crossing obtained splendid results. In the now valued kinds the original species is lost, and they are known by garden rather than botanical names. There are now varieties from 2 ft. to 8 and 12 ft. high, with a remarkable diversity of foliage; in some the leaves are narrow, stiff, and erect, in others broad, very long, and graceful, while their shades of color vary from light glaucous green to blackish purple. While some are valued for their fine foliage only, others produce an abundance of handsome flowers, which have also been improved, and there can be nothing more effective than a well arranged group of the finer varieties of canna.
The choice varieties are multiplied by division, and plants are readily raised from seed, which may or may not be like the parent; the seeds should be scalded, and sown in a hotbed; they will germinate in the open ground, but the plants will not acquire much size the first year. The roots should be taken up at the first frost and kept in a dry place where they will not freeze; the next spring they are to be divided and set out when the soil has become warm.
Indian Shot (Canna Indica).