Elephant ear

Colocasia spp.

Xanthosoma sagittifolium at Kadavoor
by Jeevan Jose (CC BY-SA 4.0)
1 of 8
The white flower spathe of a Colocasia plant
Xanthosoma sagittifolium at Kadavoor
by Jeevan Jose (CC BY-SA 4.0)
1 of 8
Colocasia as a genus is one of three similar genera that originate from Malaysia. It is often found growing along river banks and has a dormant period during the dry season in places like South Africa. You may identify species from this genus by their large, arrow-shaped leaves, they point downwards. In comparison, the related genus Alocasia features plants which have their leaves pointing upwards. Colocasia species may be used effectively as marginal plantings in ponds and lakes. They grow best in full sunlight and thrive in wet soil.
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Planning

Difficulty

Easy

Flowering time

Spring

Fruiting time

Spring

Harvesting

Harvest fruit or seeds after flowering period and sow immediately as the seeds do not store very well.

Propagation

Seed

Red seeds with a fleshy seed coat emerge after pollination. The seeds are extremely viable and will germinate after two weeks after sowing immediately. Remember to remove the fleshy seed coat before sowing the seeds as the seed coat inhibits germination.

Division

Divide corms or collect offsets during the dormancy period.

Special features

Attracts birds
Pot plant
Wet sites
Attractive leaves

Special features

Origin

Malaysia

Natural climate

Forest areas in warm climates

Environment

Light

Partial Sun, Full Sun

Soil moisture

Wet

Soil type

Loam, Sand

Soil PH preference

Acid, Neutral

Frost hardiness

Tender

Uses

Edible

Every part of this plant is edible, but it must be thoroughly boiled or steamed to rid it of toxins (Calcium oxalate crystals).

Personality

Family

Araceae

Flower colour

Inconspicuous flower with seeds turning red once pollinated

Scent

Mild

Problems

This species has a constant battle with hornworms (Hawk moth caterpillar) and cutworms. The best method to control them is to remove them by hand and to keep monitoring them regularly. Other problems that occur with this species is tuber rot and southern blight. Plant in a well-draining​ soil to prevent fungal infections.
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Knowledge and advice

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