The plant is a member of the Marantaceae family. Throughout the neolithic age and time, it has been cultivated for its edible tubers. They are known for their sweet taste. That can be consumed fresh or also in culinary dishes. Mostly native to northern South America and the Caribbean.
It is a perennial plant, approximately 1 metre (39 in) in height. that produces egg-shaped tuberous roots 2 centimetres (0.79 in) to 8 centimetres (3.1 in) long at the end of fibrous roots.
Used to make clothing, and medicine. The leaves are large, up to 60 centimetres (24 in) long and 20 centimetres (8 in) wide.
Species: G. allouia
Along with arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea), squash (Cucurbita moschata), and bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria). The plant has early signs of cultivation. In South America around 11,000 years ago. In Las Vegas culture (link) Lerén was even being grown to be eaten raw, dried, or ground into flour.
You can cook or boil the tubers for 15 to 60 minutes. And, like water chestnuts, retains crispness. They can be stored at room temperature for a number of months. Be neolithic and try some today.
Martin, F.W. & Cabanillas, E. (1976) Leren (Calathea allouia), a little known tuberous root crop of the Caribbean (https://www.jstor.org/stable/4253741). Economic Botany 30(3):249-256.
Piperno, Dolores R. (Oct 2011), “The Origins of Plant Cultivation and Domestication in the New World Tropics”, Current Anthropology, Vol 52, No. 54, pp. S 458-459.
Moore, Jerry D. (2014), A Prehistory of South America, Boulder: University Press of Colorado, pp.97-99.