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Colocasia esculenta - (L.) Schott

Common Name Taro, Elephant Ears Taro, Dasheen, Eddo
Family Araceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals. These cause an extremely unpleasant sensation similar to needles being stuck into the mouth and tongue if they are eaten, but they are easily neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water.(Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested)
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation, though it is often established in low lying areas along streams and river banks[ 200 ].
Range Widely cultivated in the tropics, its original range is uncertain but is probably tropical Asia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Colocasia esculenta Taro, Elephant Ears Taro, Dasheen, Eddo

Colocasia esculenta Taro, Elephant Ears Taro, Dasheen, Eddo
David Monniaux wikimedia.org


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Believed to be ones of the earliest cultivated root crop, Colocasia esculenta or Taro is a tropical plant characterized by its large fat leaves on the end of upright leaf stalks and its thickened rounded corm. It grows up to 1 m in height and the leaves are up to 50 cm long. The flower is a spathe, yellow in colour, and fused along the stalk. The plant is antibacterial and hypotensive. Leaf decoction promotes menstruation and when combined with other plants, relieves stomach pain and treats cysts. Other plant parts are used in the treatment if conjunctivitis and wounds. The corm is edible when cooked. It can also be dried and grated then made into flour. Young leaves and stems can be cooked as well but need to be thoroughly cooked to destroy the calcium oxalate crystal contents.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Colocasia esculenta is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Alocasia dussii Dammer Alocasia illustris W.Bull Aron colocasium (L.) St.-Lag. Arum chinense L. Arum

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root  Stem
Edible Uses:

Edible corms - cooked[ 296 ]. They can be boiled, baked, fried etc in much the same way as potatoes[ 296 ]. They can be used in savoury dishes such as soups and curries, or in sweet dishes with coconut milk, sugar etc[ 296 ]. They can also be dried and then grated to make a flour[ 418 ]. The corm is a good source of starch. The starch grains are very small making them easily digestible and they are used to make baby food that is said to be non-allergenic[ 298 ]. The tubers are usually up to 30 cm long and about 15 cm in diameter[ 418 ]. Make sure the corm is properly cooked before eating it, see notes above on toxicity[ K ]. Young leaves - cooked[ 296 ]. Some varieties of taro are grown for their leaves, which are very nutritious[ 296 ]. They are either used to wrap other food that is baked, or are used as spinach[ 296 ]. The leaves must be cooked before eating in order to destroy the calcium oxalate crystals[ 296 ]. Stems - cooked[ 296 ]. Peeled, cut into pieces and boiled in stews, they taste and look a little like celery[ 296 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The plant is antibacterial and hypotensive[ 311 ]. A decoction of the leaves is drunk to promote menstruation[ 311 ]. A decoction, together with some parts of other plants, is taken to relieve stomach problems and to treat cysts[ 311 ]. In New Guinea, the leaves are heated over a fire and are applied as a poultice to boils[ 311 ] The sap of the leaf stalk is used in treating conjunctivitis[ 311 ]. The scraped stem, together with some parts of other plants, is used to create an appetite[ 311 ]. The plant is used to treat wounds[ 311 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Animal feed, fodder, Ornamental, Materials: Fibre. Landscape Uses: Border, Container, Specimen. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Taro is a plant of the moist to humid tropics, where it can be grown at elevations up to 2,700 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 21 - 28°c, but can tolerate 10 - 35°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,800 - 2,700mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 4,100mm[ 418 ]. Grows best in a sunny position, tolerating light shade[ 418 ]. Prefers a fairly heavy, fertile and moisture-retentive soil that is rich in organic matter[ 200 ]. Plants require a very fertile soil[ 298 ]. Some cultivars are tolerant of high soil salinity[ 299 ]. Tolerant a shallow soil. Needs a moist soil in order to grow well - some varieties will even grow in shallow water[ 296 ]. Taro is often cultivated in paddy-type fields where it is grown in standing water for part of the time[ 298 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.3 - 8.2[ 418 ]. The plant can take from 6 - 18 months to produce a harvest of corms, though 7 - 10 months is the average[ 418 ]. The leaves and stems can be harvested throughout the growing period[ 298 ]. Yields of up to 37 tonnes/ha have been obtained in Hawaii under flooded conditions, while 25 tonnes/ha have been reported under dry-land cultivation[ 418 ]. Average yields may range from 4 - 6 tonnes/ha[ 418 ]. There are many named varieties[ 296 ]. Like many species in the family Araceae, this plant has the ability to heat the flowering spadix as the pollen becomes ready for fertilization. This heat greatly increases the strength of the aroma released by the plant, thus attracting more pollinating insects. It can also have the effect of making the insects more active, thus increasing the level of fertilization[ 472 ]. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 12 through 10. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a clumper with limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is a corm swelling at the stem base [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - this is a cultivated species and so seed is unlikely to breed true. Plants rarely produce fertile seed[ 300 ]. Division of suckers[ 296 ]. Corms. Usually the small, unmarketable corms, 60 - 150g in weight, obtained from healthy, productive plants are used[ 299 ]. Larger corms can be divided into pieces and used[ 299 ]. The apical 1 - 2cm of the main corm, with 15 - 20cm of the leaf stalks attached[ 299 ]. Side suckers, growing from the main corm. In Ghana planting is mainly by use of either young suckers or mature setts cut from harvested corms. Planting material must be taken from healthy plants. Cormels are planted at a depth of 50 - 75mm[ 299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Colocasia esculenta or Taro. Other Names: Chinese potato; cocoyam; dasheen; dry taro; eddoe; Egyptian colocasia; elephant's ear; old cocoyam; small taro; sweet taro; true taro. Spanish: malanga; malanga islena; oreja de elefante; papa china; pituca; tayoba; yaut’a malanga; yautia melendez. French: arouille carri; arum d'Egypte; chou caraibe; colocase; colocasie; madere; songe; songe blanc; songe sauvage. Chinese: yu. Africa: madumbe. Brazil: taio. Cambodia: traw. Cuba: malanga isle–a. Dominican Republic: tahia; tania; tayo; yaut’a coquito; yaut’a morada. Germany: echte Blattwurz. Haiti: caraibe; caraibe manzoubelle; malanga; malanga deux palles; malanga thiote; taro bombou; tayo bambou; tayo blanc; tayo noir. India: arum. Indonesia: bentul; keladi; talas. Italy: aro d'Egitto. Laos: bon; phŸak. Lesser Antilles: dachine; edoe; malanga. Malaysia: daun keladi. Papua New Guinea: anega; ba; biloun. Philippines: abalong; gabi; natong. Puerto Rico: angustia. Thailand: bon-nam; tun. Vietnam: khoai nuwowsc; khoai soj; moon nuwowsc.

Found In: Afghanistan, Africa, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central African Republic, CAR, Central America, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo DR, Cook islands, Costa Rica, C™te d'Ivoire, Cuba, East Africa, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial-Guinea, Ethiopia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guiana, Guianas, Guinea, GuinŽe, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Himalayas, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Marianas, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mediterranean, Micronesia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norfolk Island, North Africa, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Polynesia, Portugal, Rotuma, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, SE Asia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tahiti, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uruguay, USA, Vanuatu, Vatican, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Yap, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This species is listed as an aggressive weed in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Australia (Queensland) and New Zealand and as an invasive species in Cuba, Costa Rica, the Gal‡pagos Islands, and French Polynesia. C. esculenta has several adaptations that aid it to survive as a weed [1d].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Colocasia esculenta (Wild Taro) Status: Least Concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(L.) Schott

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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