Description: [Small to] massive herbs or low palm-like trees, stems erect to decumbent [or creeping].
Leaves simple, lamina cordate to hastate, occasionally peltate (especially in juveniles) with ± reticulate venation.
Inflorescences usually paired, apparently lateral. Spathe with clearly defined basal convolute 'tube' and upper reflexed to spreading to cowl-like lamina separated by a constriction; lower part persistent, the upper becoming soft and wasting away or withering [or persistent]. Spadix with naked female flowers below, a zone of [polygonal or] tubercular sterile flowers, then a male zone of [polygonal or] elongate male flowers of fused stamens, and finally a tapering sterile appendix. Tepals absent.
Fruit a 1–several-seeded berry; infructescence enclosed by the lower part of the spathe which is longitudinally dehiscent at maturity.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 70 species, Indomalesia to Oceania. Australia: 2 species (1 species endemic).
Several species have been introduced as ornamental plants. A. macrorrhizos (L.) Don is an inferior starch crop. A. brisbanensis (q.v.) was confused with A. macrorrhizos by Australian authors; it is extremely acrid (calcium oxalate crystals) and edible only after very careful and thorough preparation.
Text by A. Hay