The genus is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the New World, from the southern United States (southern South Carolina west to southern Texas) and south to northern Argentina. The species have large, attractive foliage, and horticulturists have turned it into a large-flowered and bright garden plant. In addition, it is one of the world's richest starch sources, and is an agricultural plant. Although a plant of the tropics, most cultivars have been developed in temperate climates and are easy to grow in most countries of the world as long as they receive at least 6–8 hours average sunlight during the summer, and are moved to a warm location for the winter.
The name Canna originates from the Latin word for a cane or reed. The flowers are typically red, orange, or yellow or any combination of those colours, and are aggregated in inflorescences that are spikes or panicles (thyrses). Although gardeners enjoy these odd flowers, nature really intended them to attract pollinators collecting nectar and pollen, such as bees, hummingbirds, sunbirds, and bats. The pollination mechanism is conspicuously specialised.
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