Calathea Allouia or Goeppertia allouia (scientific name) is lerén or lairén in Spanish. And, in English, Guinea arrow root, or sweet corn root. It has been known since ancient times.

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.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Marantaceae
Genus: Goeppertia
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 ( 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.

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