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Colocasia esculenta

Pronunciation: Kol-oh-kay-shah ess-kew-len-tah
Family: Araceae (arum family)
Common Name: Taro, dasheen, elephant ear, cocoyam, eddo, eddoe
Plant Type:
  • perennial
Height to: 8'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Description: Wetland herbaceous perennial with huge elephant ear leaves. It produces heart shaped leaves 2-3 ft (0. 6-0. 9 m) long and 1-2 ft ((0. 6-0. 9 m) across on 3 ft (0. 9 m) long petioles that all emanate from an upright tuberous rootstock, technically a corm. The petioles are thick and succulent and often purplish. The leaf attachment is referred to as "peltate", which means that the petiole attaches near the center of the leaf.
Plant Perks:
  • Container Gardening
Propagation: Taro is propagated from whole tubers (the side-growing cormels or eddos), divided off in winter or early spring. Plant "seed" tubers 2-3 in (5-7. 6 cm) deep and 2 ft (0. 6 m) apart. Sometimes when the main corm is harvested and the top, with or without its leaf stems still attached, is tossed aside, it survives and grows new roots where it lands.
Native to: Taro is native to swampy areas in tropical southeastern asia. It has been cultivated for more than 6000 years. Upland taros are widely cultivated in china, japan and the west indies as ornamental foliage plants and as an important food crop. Wetland taros are grown commonly in polynesia and the hawaiian islands. The cultivar, 'trinidad' is grown in florida and the west indies for its cormels (eddos) and edible shoots.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - there are more than 200 cultivars of taro, selected for their edible corms or cormels, or their tropical looking ornamental foliage. These fall into two main groups: wetland taros, the source of the polynesian food poi, which is made from the main corm; and upland taros, called "dasheens" in florida and the west indies, which produce numerous eddos that are used much like potatoes, as well as a large edible mammy. 'globulifera' or 'trinidad' is an upland taro that produces excellent cormels on numerous short side shoots. 'sacramento' produces larger but fewer cormels of variable quality. 'fontanesia' (violet-stemmed taro) produces leaves with wine red veins, margins and petioles. 'illustris' (imperial taro or black caladium) has purplish markings between the leaf veins. 'black magic', 'jet black gold' and 'jet black wonder' have strikingly attractive dark purple leaves. Many of the ornamental cultivars are sold under the name "elephant ears. " in frost prone climates taro is grown as an ornamental foliage plant in a container in a warm greenhouse or at the edge of an indoor pool. It also is sometimes grown outdoors as an annual. Slice off the top of the rootstock, remove the leaf stems, and place the slice in a shallow dish of water on a sunny window sill; it will soon sprout an attractive mass of miniature leaves. In zones 9-11, taro can be grown at the edge of water gardens and in wetland sites in the landscape, but note that it can be invasive. The huge-leaved taro is a striking feature in the landscape, but not for the timid or refined garden. Taro makes a bold statement next to a water garden or along a small stream. It can also be grown in the vegetable garden if supplied with plenty of water. Even though it seldom produces viable seeds, taro will spread vegetatively and if not contained it can become a serious pest weed in wetland. Care: grow taro in a slightly acidic, moist or wet soil, rich in organic material. This is a fast growing plant with a tendency to spread if conditions are favorable. Taro does best in partial shade, but tolerates full sun if it gets plenty of water. Taro is a wetland plant. It will grow happily with its feet continually wet, and even in water 12 in (0. 3 m) deep. Taro also can be grown in a well-drained soil if supplied with abundant water. During its dormant period, keep the tubers dry if possible.
Located in: Perennials
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