A large-leaved herb growing to 2 m tall and spreading by means of underground stems (rhizomes), native to South America, commonly found beside creeks and ponds and in other wet habitats. Sometimes also found in gardens and waste areas.

Leaf blades are usually very large (up to 20 x 55 cm in size), with an elongated or oval (elliptic) shape but coming to a point (acute apex). Entire, and narrow at the base to a stem-clasping leaf sheath.

Flowers can be red, yellow or red and yellow. They appear to have five ‘petals’ but these are actually other floral structures that have become modified to imitate petals. The petals are actually the three bract-like structures below these false ‘petals’.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Fruit

Widely cultivated as a garden plant, perennial, growing from 0.5 m to 2.5 m, depending on the variety. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).

The seeds are small globular black pellets, hard and heavy enough to sink in water. They resemble shotgun pellets giving rise to the plant’s common name of Indian Shot.

Photo: Robert Whyte