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  1. Cannaceae Juss.

    1. This family is accepted.


Cannaceae, F.N. Hepper. Flora of West Tropical Africa 3:1. 1968

Tall leafy perennial rhizomatous herbs
Leaves large, broad, pinnately nerved, with a distinct midrib
Flowers racemose or paniculate, bracteate, zygomorphic, bisexual, mostly large and brightly coloured
Perianth double, the outer calyx-like, the inner corolla-like
Sepals 3, imbricate, free, herbaceous
Petals 3, connate at the base and adnate to the staminal column
Stamens petaloid, 3 outer sterile, imbricate, 2 inner more or less connate, 1 free; anther solitary, 1-locular, adnate to the side of the petaloid portion
Ovary inferior, 3-locular; ovules numerous, axile
Fruit a capsule, pericarp often warted
Seeds many, rounded, with very hard endosperm

Cannaceae, J.M.Lock. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1993

Leafy shoots erect Herbs arising from horizontal variously thickened rhizomes
Leaves spirally arranged, with open sheaths; ligule absent
Inflorescence terminal, many-flowered, bracteate, either a simple spike or a pseudo-spike made up of 2-flowered subunits
Outer whorl with 3 ovate segments Perianth 6-partite, in 2 whorls
Inner whorl of 3 narrowly oblong segments, longer than the members of the outer whorl Flowers asymmetric
Anther with a single fertile theca on one side of a petaloid member Androecium largely petaloid, usually with one member (the labellum) much larger than the others
Style fleshy, free or connate with the petaloid part of the stamen and staminodes to form a tube Ovary inferior, 3-locular; surface spiny-fimbriate or verrucose; ovules numerous, axillary
Fruit capsular, loculicidally dehiscent (often tardily so); seeds globose, smooth, very hard

Maas-van de Kamer, H. & Maas, P.J.M. (2009). Neotropical Cannaceae.


Perennial , often large-sized, glabrous herbs, with rhizomes. Stems unbranched. Leaves distichously to spirally arranged, with open sheath , without ligula. Lamina with closely set, pinnately arranged, parallel secondary veins , lower side glaucous or lanuginose, or glabrous . Inflorescence terminal , bracteate, a sympodially branched thyrse, with 2- or 1-flowered cincinni. Flowers asymmetric ; sepals 3, free ; corolla composed of 3 unequal petals, basally connate into a tube; androecium essentially composed of two 3- merous whorls, the inner whorl composed of 1 petaloid stamen , the staminode (previously called 'labellum'), and often a second inner staminode , the outer whorl composed of 0--2 staminodes; staminodes petaloid , varying in number; fertile stamen petaloid , with a solitary monothecal, 2-sporangiate, marginal anther ; style petaloid , stigmatic areas terminal and marginal ; floral tube formed by the connate parts of petals, staminodes, stamen , and style ; ovary inferior, 3-locular, with numerous, anatropous ovules arranged on axile placentae, septal nectaries 3, opening by holes into the base of the floral tube. Fruit a capsule , crowned by the persistent sepals, loculicidally dehiscent or seeds released by the breakdown of the capsule wall, wall tuberculate (warty). Seeds numerous, without an aril , with a so-called imbibition lid.

Distribution in the Neotropics
  • An originally Neotropical family with the single genus Canna L. Widely cultivated all over the Tropics and Subtropics, and often escaped and naturalized.
Other important characters
  • The species of Canna are devoid of hairs, but often the leaves, sheaths, inflorescence, bracts, and sepals are described as glaucous or woolly, scurfy, lanuginose, or waxy. This aspect is caused by an epicuticular wax layer.
  • The inflorescence is sympodially branched and provided with different types of bracts: primary bracts, branch bracts, floral bracts, and bracteoles (see Maas-van de Kramer & Maas, 2008).
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Rhizomatous herbs with open sheaths, but without ligule.
  • Flowers asymmetric.
  • 3 sepals.
  • 3 petals.
  • Varying number of staminodes, 1 fertile, petaloid  stamen with 1 monothecal anther, and 1 petaloidstyle.
  • Fruit a loculicidal capsule with a tuberculate (warty) wall and many globose very hard seeds.
  • Seeds germinating by a so-called imbibition lid, a character unique in the Plant Kingdom (see Graven et al. 1997).
Key differences from similar families

Cannaceae differ from other large-stemmed Monocots by their:

  • Asymmetric flowers.
  • Single, petaloidstamen with a monothecal anther.
General Description
General notes
  • Many species of Canna are cultivated in the Neotropics and even naturalized.
  • Canna - native.
Number of genera
  • Canna (10 spp.).
Notes on delimitation
  • The family of Cannaceae is placed in the order of the Zingiberales, together with Marantaceae, Costaceae, and Zingiberaceae.
Important literature

Graven, P., C.G. De Koster, J.J. Boon & F. Bouman.1997. Functional aspects of mature seed coat of the Cannaceae. Pl. Syst. Evol. 205: 223-240.

Kubitzki, K. 1998. Cannaceae. In: K. Kubitzki  (ed.), The families and genera of vascular plants 4: 103-106.

Maas-van de Kamer, H. & P.J.M. Maas. 2008. The Cannaceae of the World. Blumea 53: 247-318. 


Accepted Genera

Other Data

Cannaceae Juss. appears in other Kew resources:


First published in Gen. Pl. [Jussieu] 62. 1789 [4 Aug 1789] (1789)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)


Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Flora of West Tropical Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.