Edible portion : Rhizome, Root, Vegetable
A perennial plant up to 2 m high with large fleshy underground rhizomes. The stem is erect. There are 4-8 leaves near the base. There are 1-8 leaves on the stem. It has large leaves on long stalks near the base. These stalks can be 3.5-20 cm long. The leaf blade is 12 cm long and the leaf stalk clasps the stem. Flowers are small and white. There can be several on each leafy shoot. They occur on the ends of branches. There are 1-2 bracts under each 2-3 flowers. The rhizomes can be 20 cm long and about 3 cm across. They are covered with fleshy scales. The fruit are capsules which are green and tinged red-brown. They are oval and 7-8 mm long by 4-5 mm wide. The seeds are brown.
It is a tropical plant. It grows well in hot humid climates. A temperature of 20-30°C is best. Plants grow from the coast up to 900 m altitude in the tropics. It needs a rainfall of 1500 to 2000 mm yearly. It is cultivated in S China for starch. It needs deep, well drained and slightly acid soil. It suits plant hardiness zones 10-12. Bontoc. In Yunnan