Family • Cannaceae - Canna indica Linn. - CANNA LILY - Mei ren jiao

Scientific names

Canna achiras Gilles.
Canna coccinea Mill.
Canna indica Linn.
Canna lutea Mill.
Canna orientalis Rosc.
Canna speciosa Rosc.

Other vernacular names

BURMESE: Adalut, Butsarana.
CAMBODIA: Che:k te:hs.
FRENCH: Balisier, Canna.
INDONESIA: Ganyong, Buah tasbeh, Ubi pikul.
LAOTIAN: Kwayz ke: so:n, Kwayz ph’uttha so:n.
MALAYSIA: Daun tasbeh, Ganjong, Pisang sebak.
SPANISH: Achira.
THAI: Phuttharaksa, Phutthason.
VIETNAMESE: Chu[oos]i hoa, Dong r[ef]ng, Khoai dao.

Common names

Balunsaying (Bis.)
Bangali (Bik.)
Kakuentasa (Tag.)
Kiuingam (If.)
Kolintasan (Bis.)
Kuentas-kuentasan (Tag.)
Lasa (Iv.)
Saging-saging (Tag.)
Tapuranga (Bis.)
Tikas (Tag.)
Tikas-tikas (Tag., Bis.)
Tikis-tikis (Tag.)
Tukas-tukas (Tag.)
Plantanillo (Sp.)
Canna lily (Engl.)
Indian bread shot (Engl.)
Indian shot (Engl.)
Queensland arrowroot (Engl.)
Mei ren jiao (Chin.)

Tikas is stout herbaceous plant with a tuberous rootstock. Whole plant is green and smooth, growing 1.5 meters high. Leaves are lanceolate or ovate, 10 to 30 centimeters long, 10 to 20 centimeters wide. Inflorescence is somewhat waxy-glaucous, erect, with a peduncle about 30 centimeters long. Flowers are red, solitary or in pairs, the bracts about 1.3 centimeters long. Sepals are 1 to 1.5 centimeters long, greenish-white though sometimes tinged with red, and lanceolate or oblong. Corolla tube about 1 cm long, the involute lobes being red or reddish, 2.5 to 3 centimeters long. The staminodes are bright-red, petal-like, the outer one being about 4 centimeters long, somewhat spatulate, acute, or slightly acuminate, and the others somewhat smaller, though the anther-bearing ones are as long as the outer one, about 4 centimeters wide, and recurved about the insertion of the anther. Inflorescence somewhat waxy-glaucous, erect, with a peduncle about 30 centimeters long. Fruits are capsules, green oblong-ovoid, softly echinate (spiny), and 2 to 2.5 centimeters long. Seeds are about pea-sized, somewhat spherical, with shining, black seed-coat.


– Throughout the Philippines in settled areas, occurring in waste places and near settlements.
– Native of tropical America, and now pantropic in distribution.

– Rhizomes yield fat, traces of an alkaloid, gum and starch.
– Phytochemical screening yielded phenols, sterols, flavonoids and saponins.
– Study of red flowers yielded four anthocyanin pigments apart from quercetin and lycopene: Cyanidin-3-O-(6”-O-α-rhamnopyranosyl)-β-glucopyranoside, Cyanidin-3-O-(6”-O-α-rhamnopyranosyl)-β-galactopyranoside, Cyanidin-3-O-β-glucopyranoside, and Cyanidin-O-β-galactopyranoside.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings


(2) Canna indica flower: New source of anthocyanins / Srivastava J, Vankar PS / Plant Physiol Biochem. 2010 Dec;48(12):1015-9. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

(3) Antinociceptive and Anthelmintic Activity of Canna indica / S A Nirmal, S M Shelke, P B Gagare, P R Jadhav, and P M Dethe / Natural Product Research, Vol 21, No 12, Oct 2007, 1042-1047.

(4) Technical note phytoremediation of triazophos by Canna indica Linn. in a hydroponic system. / Cheng S, Xiao J, Xiao H, Zhang L, Wu Z. / Int J Phytoremediation. 2007 Nov-Dec;9(6):453-63. doi: 10.1080/15226510701709531.

(5) Canna indica / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(6) PURIFICATION AND CHARACTERIZATION OF ANTI-HIV-1 PROTEIN FROM CANNA INDICA L. LEAVES /  Apanchanid Thepouyporn, Chalobon Yoosook, Wongsatit Chuakul, Krit Thirapanmethee, Chanita Napaswad and Chanpen Wiwat / Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health, Vol 43 No. 5 September 2012

(7) Green synthesized of silver nanoparticles using Canna indica leaf extract and its characterization / Veera Babu Nagati, Raju Nalvothula, Rama Koyyati, PratapRudra Manthur Padigya* / Int.J. ChemTech Res. 2014, 6(4),pp 2271-2276.

(8) PHYTOREMEDIATION OF HEAVY METAL CONTAMINATED SOILS USING CANNA INDICA L. / Subhashini, V., Ch. Rani, D. Harika and A.V.V.S. Swamy / International Journal of Applied Biosciences ISSN 2319-9938 Vol. 1(1), 2013, pp. 09-13

(9) Herbal medicines for wound healing among tribal people in Southern India: Ethnobotanical and Scientific evidences / Ayyanar M, Ignacimuthu, S∗/ International Journal of Applied Research in Natural Products Vol. 2(3), pp. 29-42, Sep-Oct 2009

(10) Evaluation of the Antidiarrhoea Activity of the Methanolic Extract of Canna indica Leaf (Cannaceae) / O. Ofeimun Josephine, Owolabi Omonkhelin Josephine* and Oluyole Taye Cosmos / INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARMACEUTICAL AND CHEMICAL SCIENCES, Vol. 2 (2) Apr-Jun 2013

– Sweet-tasting, slightly cooling-natured, antipyretic, relieves gastrointestinal disorders.
– Rhizomes considered demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, antipyretic.
– Seeds considered cordial and vulnerary.
– Roots considered acrid and stimulant.

Parts utilized
· Rhizomes, flowers, leaves.
· May be collected during any time of the year.
· Rinse, remove appendage or roots, section into pieces sun-dry or use fresh.

· Principally used in the treatment of acute jaundice type of hepatitis. Use 15 to 30 gms dried material or 60 to 90 gms fresh rhizome material in decoction. Commonly, recovery from jaunditic symptoms may be observed after one week of administration.
· In the Philippines, decoction of rhizome used as diuretic. Also, when macerated in water, used to alleviate nosebleeds.
Tikas5· In Costa Rica infusion of leaves used as diuretic; rhizomes used as emollient.
· Decoction of rhizomes used in fevers, dropsy and dyspepsia.
· Flowers may be used for external wound bleeding – use 10 to 15 gm dried material in decoction.
• In Bangladesh, paste of plant used for tonsillitis.
• In Thailand, rhizome has been used with other herbs for cancer treatment.
• In southwest Nigeria, leaves used for malaria.
• In Southern India, stems and leaves used in mixture with various herbal plants for wound healing. Stem juice of canna indica is mixed with stem of Cyanotis villosa and applied externally to heal wounds. Mixture of Trichodesma zeylanicum leaf, G. glabra rhizome, Canna indica stem and P granatum bark are mixed and ground to a paste and applied topically to wounds. Stem juice of C. indica mixed with stem juice of Commelina benghalensis and fruits of Areca catechu applied topically to wounds.


Study Findings
• AIDS / HIV1-RT Inhibition: Canna indica was one of twenty Thai medicinal plants used to treat AIDS tested for their HIV type 1 reverse transcriptase inhibitoryactivity. C indica rhizomes showed HIV-1 RT inhibition ratio higher than 90% at 200 bug/ml concentration. Further study of C indica and two proteins isolated showed significant HIV-1 RT inhibition.
• Cannagenin / Molluscicidal: Study yielded cannagenin, which had a highly synergistic with chlorophyll on the morality of snails.
• Molluscicidal:Study showed C indica to have time and dose dependent mollusicidal activity in a dose that was not toxic for the fish Colisa fasciatus, which shares the same habitat as the snail L acuminata.
• Hepatoprotective: Study showed the methanol extract of aerial parts of Canna indica has liver protective effect against carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity.
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant: Study of hydroalcoholic extract showed significant antioxidant and hepatoprotective activity. Results were compared with reference drug Silymarin.
• Cytotoxicity / Anticancer: Study yielded two pure compounds, stigmasterol and 6-beta-hydroxystigmasta-4, 22-diene-3-one and two other toxic minor components. They showed cytotoxicity against P388 leukemia cells.
• Antioxidant: Study results clearly indicate the aerial parts of C indica is effective in scavenging free radicals and has the potential to be a powerful antioxidant
• Flower Anthocyanins / Antioxidant / Pigment Source: Study of red flowers of Canna indica isolated anthocyanins. Four anthocyanin pigments were isolated from quercetin and lycopene. The compounds showed good antioxidant activity. Results suggest a promising pigment source for food applications.
• Antinociceptive / Antihelmintic: Study of benzene and methanol extracts of C. indica showed significant central and peripheral analgesic activity. Anthelmintic activity, evaluated on Pheretima posthuma, showed a methanolic extract of rhizomes taking less time to cause paralysis of the earthworms.
• Phytoremediation of Triazophos: Study showed the potential of C. indica in a hydroponic system for phytoremediation of triazophos (O, O-diethyl-O-(1-phenyl-1, 2, 4-triazole-3-base) sulfur phosphate, TAP) from contaminated water.
• Anti-HIV 1 Protein / Plastocyanin / Leaves: Study isolated a novel 10kDa protein with anti-HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitory activity from the leaves of Canna indica. The leaf protein was shown to be a plant plastocyanin with HIV-1 RT inhibitory property.
• Silver Nanoparticles from Leaf Extract: Nano biotechnology is a field that applies the Nano scale principle and techniques to understand and transform bio systems (living and non -living), using biological principles and materials to create new devices and systems integrated from the nanoscale. Plant mediated synthesis of nanoparticles is gaining importance because of simplicity and ecofriendliness. In the study, silver nanoparticles were synthesized from the leaf extract of Canna indica.
• Phytoremediation / Heavy Metal Contaminated Soils: Contamination of soils with heavy metals mainly result from industrial activities, i.e., mining and smelting, energy and fuel production, disposal of pharmaceutical wastes, fertilizers and pesticide application. Study showed Canna indica effectively translocated lead and chromium to aerial parts while the roots retained high quantities of cadmium, nickel and zinc. C. indica can be considered an effective accumulator of heavy metals and effective for the reclamation of heavy metal contaminated soils.
• Antidiarrheal / Leaf Extract: Study of methanolic extract of of C. indica showed anti-diarrheal properties comparable to atropine and loperamide via reduction of fluid secretion, gastrointestinal motility and acetylcholine-induced contractions.