The canna plants are used at International House to filter the grey water coming from the different tabs and pipes. The plants are very tolerant of contaminants and after the water being filtered in such way, it flows directly on into the banana fields.
All of the plant has commercial value:
- rhizomes for starch (consumption by humans and livestock)
- stems and foliage for animal fodder
- young shoots as a vegetable and young seeds as an addition to tortillas
- seeds are used as beads in jewelry
- seeds are used as the mobile elements of some musical instrument
- In more remote regions of India, cannas are ferment to produce alcohol
- The plant yields a fibre — from the stem — it is used as a jute substitute.
- A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making paper.
- The leaves are harvested in late summer after the plant has flowered, they are scraped to remove the outer skin and are then soaked in water for 2 hours prior to cooking.
- The fibres are cooked for 24 hours with lye and then beaten in a blender. They make a light tan brown paper. A purple dye is obtained from the seed.
- Smoke from the burning leaves is said to be insecticidal.