Cuban Cigar
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Cuban Cigar
P Introduced Photo: Aarti Khale
Common name: Cuban Cigar, Havana Cigar, Pampano, Cigar Calathea,
Botanical name: Calathea lutea    Family: Marantaceae (Arrowroot family)
Synonyms: Calathea discolor, Maranta lutea, Maranta argentea

Cuban Cigar is a vigorously growing, evergreen perennial plant that can be up to 5 m tall. The foot long inflorescence is composed of reddish brown, cup-shaped bracts which are alternately stacked on top of each other in 2 files, looking like a cigar. For each inflorescence, about 2-3 yellow, tubular flowers occur within the cup-shaped bracts. The plant forms a clump of large leaves which emerge from an underground rhizome. Leaves are large, broadly ovate, bright green above, but silvery and waxy below. In the morning, the leaf blade is horizontally oriented and flat, while at night, it becomes more vertical and folds in half along the midrib. Cuban Cigar is native to Tropical America, mostly in coastal areas from Mexico south to Brazil and Peru. The leaves are used as food wrappers in Panama. The leaves are harvested by local people and used for thatch, as a source of wax etc.

Identification credit: Pudji Widodo Photographed in cultivation in Bangalore.

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