Arrow-Root, Indian, or the Marania, a plant of which there are three species, the arundinacea, galanga, and comosa; all of them are herbaceous, perennial exotics of the Indies, and kept in our hot-houses merely for curiosity. The first of these species is the true starch-plant, and is likewise used by the Indians to extract the poison communicated by their arrows.
Dr. WRIGHT, of Jamaica, appears to be the first who informed. us that a decoction of the fresh roots makes an excellent ptisan in acute di From an ingenious pamphlet published in 1796, by Mr. T. RyDEr, of Oxford-street, we farther learn, that one of his West Indian patients employed it as an article of diet, and since period it has been very gene-rally used in families
The arrow-root powder unquestionably yields a larger proportion of nutritive mucilage than any European vegetable, if we except the Salep-todt: hence a single table-spoonful of either, makes a pint of strong and nourishing jelly, which affords a very proper food in acute diseases, as well as in all those complaints where animal food must be abstained from. It is therefore to be regretted, that we cannot easily obtain this powder in a pure state, without paying the extravagant price of from five to ten shillings per pound; for in those shops where it is offered to sale at an inferior price of two or three shillings the pound, we have found by experience, that it is considerably adulterated.
Mr. Ryder, before mentioned, has justly recommended the culture of this root to the West Indian Planters, and the new African Colonists, as an object, of commerce, and the most eligible substitute for starch made of wheat: 1. Be-se it would save annually 66, 000 quarters of that valuable grain, in Great Britain alone, where the average quantum of starch made in the years 1793, 1794, and 1795, amounted to 8 millions of pounds weight, allowing one hundred and twenty pounds per quarter ; - 2. As the wholesale price of the arrow-root was, in 1796, fifteen pence a pound, and as one pound of its starch is equal to two pound and a half prepared from wheat, its intrinsic value would, by this computation, not exceed six-pence per pound : whereas the average price of starch in England for seven years (from 1789 to 1795) may be stated at nine-pence the pound. 3. As the arrow-root contains more soluble, gelatinous matter, occupying less space, being less enveloped in earthy particles, and affording a purer farina than any other plant, it may be reasonably inferred, that the starch obtained from it must be of the finest quality 5 an opinion amply confirmed by three clear-starchers, who were, on this occasion, consulted by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce.