The arrowroot plant is native to the tropics of South America. Technically derived as the edible starch from a rhizome of Maranta species, it has roots which date as early as 7000 years ago. The Arawak Indians called it the Aru-aru (meal of meals). The Arawaks used the substance to draw out toxins from people wounded by poison arrows. Its name is thought to be derived from that practice. It has a long history of cultivation by native peoples, who developed an extensive treatment process for extracting the usable arrowroot powder from the roots. The roots are washed, scraped, beaten, soaked, pulped, and finally forced through a sieve. The liquid and fine powders which make it through the sieve are dried, leaving the useful arrowroot powder behind.