Taro

Colocasia spp.

Elephant Ear

profile iconSonge-Réunion
by Thierry Caro (CC BY-SA 2.5)
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A close up of a green Colocasia plant with arrow-shaped leaves
profile iconSonge-Réunion
by Thierry Caro (CC BY-SA 2.5)
1 of 7
Colocasia as a genus is one of three similar genera that originate from Malaysia. Its members can be deciduous or evergreen, tuberous-rooted perennials. It is often found growing along river banks and has a dormant period during the dry season in places like South Africa. Colocasia species have large, round or arrow-shaped leaves, often with conspicuous veins. Insignificant flowering spathes are rarely in cultivation. Colocasias can be used effectively as marginal plantings in ponds and lakes. They grow best out of full sunlight and thrive in wet soil. All parts poisonous if eaten uncooked, and leaves may irritate skin.
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Planning

Difficulty

Moderate

Flowering time

Spring

Fruiting time

Autumn

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

Birds are attracted to the edible fruits.

Pot plant

This plant grows well in potted containers. The potted plant can even be placed and submerged in the water of a shallow pond and placed in full sun in warm climates.

Wet sites

Grows well when used as a marginal plant along rivers and ponds.

Attractive leaves

Special features

Origin

Malaysia

Natural climate

Forest areas in warm climates

Environment

Light

Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture

Wet

Soil type

Loam, Water

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

Insignificant, White

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 if kept wet over winter, and southern blight.
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Knowledge and advice

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