Polynesian arrowroot

Tahitian names

Pia ma'a (FP)

Interesting facts

The Pia is a plant where the hollow stem can exceed 1.2m in height when erect. It has one or two leaves and an underground tubercule from which the roots grow. Tubers of this plant are used to make starch. This starch can be used in traditional medicine or in cosmetics, for example the monoi "horahora" made in the Tuamotu Archipelago. It is also edible and Polynesian people used the starch to make a variety of "poe", a delicious sweet pudding, very rich and energising. Nowadays the "poe" is cooked with cassava starch. The starch was also used in the production of “tapa” (or bark cloth) as a glue. The sweet fruits of this plant are also eaten by children like candy.



Biogeographical status

Polynesian introduction

Life form


Abundance on Tetiaroa


Ecosystem on Tetiaroa

interior of islet

sources & credits

Butaud J.F., 2013. Tuamotu du centre, Guide floristique. Direction de l'Environnement.

Grepin F., Grepin M., 1870-1880. La médecine traditionnelle par F. Grepin et M. Grepin. Direction des Centres d'Expérimentations Nucléaires. Service Mixte de Contrôle Biologique.


S: Society | T: Tuamotu | M: Marquesas | G: Gambier | A: Australs | FP: French Polynesia