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CLOSE THIS BOOKRoot Crops (NRI, 1987, 308 p.)
VIEW THE DOCUMENT(introduction...)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTAcknowledgments
VIEW THE DOCUMENTAfrican yam bean (Sphenostylis stenocarpa)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTAu (Tropaeolum tuberosum)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTArracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTArrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTArrowroot (Maranta arundinacea)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTCassava (Manihot esculenta)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTChavar (Hitchenia caulina)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTChinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTChufa (Cyperus esculentus)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTEast Indian arrowroot (Tacca leontopetaloides)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTElephant yam (Amorphophallus spp.)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTFalse yam (Icacina senegalensis)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTGiant taro (Alocasia macrorrhiza)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTHausa potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTJerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTKudzu (Pueraria lobata)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTLotus root (Nelumbo nucifera)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTMaca (Lepidium meyenni)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTOca (Oxalis tuberosa)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTPotato (Solanum tuberosum)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTQueensland arrowroot (Canna indica)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTRadish (Raphanus sativus)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTShoti (Curcuma zedoario)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTSwamp taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTSweet potato (Ipomaea batatas)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTTannia (Xanthosoma spp.)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTTaro (Colocasia esculenta)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTTopee tambo (Calathea allouia)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTUllucu (Ullucus tuberosus)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTWinged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTYacn (Polymnia sonchifolia)
Yam (Dioscorea spp.)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTYam bean (Pachyrrhizus erosus)

Chavar (Hitchenia caulina)

Common name


Botanical name

Hitchenia caulina (Grah.) Baker syn. Curcuma caulina (Grah.).



Other names

Arrowroot lily, Chowar, Indian arrowroot'.


A tuberous herb with a leafy stem, 0.9-1.2 m high, with oblong-lanceolate, fibrous leaves 30-50 cm long and 7.5-10 cm broad. The yellow flowers, which possess a long peduncle, are borne on a central spike.

Origin and distribution

The plant is native to India and is found mainly growing wild on the table land of the Mahabaleshwar plateau and neighbouring regions in forest areas with high annual rainfall.

Cultivation conditions

Hot moist conditions are essential: rainfall of upwards of 500 cm per annum characterises its natural habitat, though it may be grown on the banks of irrigation canals.

Planting procedure

Chavar is easily propagated by tuber cuttings, which are planted in raked soil at the beginning of the monsoon, frequently in arecanut plantations and on the banks of rivers and irrigation channels. It is often planted very densely to prevent soil erosion, in some areas up to 50 000 plants per hectare.

Growth period

For maximum yields of starch a 2 year rotation should be practiced and the tubers harvested when they are 20-24 months old.

Harvesting and handling

The tubers are dug by hand.

Primary product

Tubers - these are normally the size of an orange with white flesh and covered with fibrous roots.

Main use

The tubers yield a white edible starch, which has sometimes been used as a substitute for arrowroot starch.

Secondary and waste products

It has been suggested that the leaves could be used for papermaking.

Special features

The tubers have a starch content of 10.9-18.3 per cent (fresh weight basis). On average the tubers yield about 13 per cent of starch, 60 per cent of which is of superior quality and very similar to that of arrowroot.


The harvested tubers are washed and the fibrous roots removed, after which the cleaned tubers are grated and the resultant pulp washed thoroughly, sieved and then re-washed, and the starch allowed to settle out. It is then sun-dried.

Major influences

Although formerly used locally as a source of 'arrowroot starch', nowadays it is not normally economic to prepare starch commercially from chavar, but the crop can yield a high quality starch, and it could be of value in high rainforest areas to prevent soil erosion.


KHAIRNAR, M. S. 1945. Hitchenia caulina (Chavar) as a source of arrow root. Indian Forester, 71, 126-127.

SASTRI, B. N. (ed.). 1959. Hitchenia. The wealth of India: Raw materials, Vol. 5 (H-K), PP. 101-102. New Delhi, India: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, 332 pp.