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Alocasia - (L.) G.Don

Common Name Giant Taro, Giant Elephant Ear
Family Araceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards All parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals. This substance is toxic fresh and, if eaten, makes the mouth, tongue and throat feel as if hundreds of small needles are digging in to them. However, calcium oxalate is easily broken down either by thoroughly cooking the plant or by fully drying it and, in either of these states, it is safe to eat the plant. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet[238 ].
Habitats Common along river banks and other damp places from sea-level to 500 metres[311 ].
Range E. Asia - Indian subcontinent, Malaysia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Alocasia Giant Taro, Giant Elephant Ear
Alocasia Giant Taro, Giant Elephant Ear
H Zell


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Alocasia is a PERENNIAL growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Alocasia cordifolia (Bory) Cordem. Alocasia gigas Chantrier ex Andre Alocasia grandis N.E.Br. Alocasia indica (Lour.) Spach. Alocasia marginata N.E.Br. Alocasia metallica Schott Alocasia montana (Roxb.) Schott Alocasia pallida K.Koch & C.D.Bouche Alocasia plumbea Van Houtte Alocasia rapiformis (Roxb.) Schott Alocasia uhinkii Engl. & K.Krause Alocasia variegata K.Koch & C.D.Bouche Arum cordifolium Bory Arum indicum Lour. Arum macrorhizum L. Arum montanum Roxb. Arum mucronatum Lam. Arum peregrinum L. Arum rapiforme Roxb. Caladium indicum K.Koch Caladium macrorrhizon (L.) R.Br. Caladium metallicum Engl. Caladium odoratum Lodd. Caladium plumbeum K.Koch Calla badian Blanco Calla maxima Blanco Calocasia indica (Lour.) Kunth Colocasia boryi Kunth Colocasia macrorrhizos (L.) Schott Colocasia montana (Roxb.) Kunth Colocasia mucronata (Lam.) Kunth Colocasia peregrina (L.) Raf. Colocasia rapiformis (Roxb.) Kunth Philodendron peregrinum (L.) Kunth Philodendron punctatum Kunth


Edible Uses

Corm - cooked[300 ]. The corm needs to be thoroughly cooked before being eaten in order to destroy the calcium oxalate crystals[300 , 418 ]. Stems - cooked[300 ]. The basal part of the stem, which can be up to 1 metre tall and 20cm in diameter, is peeled and used as a cooked vegetable[300 , 418 ]. It can be added to soups and stews[418 ]. A very easily digested starch can be obtained from the stem[300 , 418 ]. The leaves and stalks of some cultivars are edible[418 ].


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.

Although no specific medicinal properties have been established, giant taro is often used in traditional medicine in the Pacific Islands[311 ].. The sap of the stem is used to treat earache or boils in the ear[311 ]. Externally, it is used to treat cuts[311 ]. In New Guinea, headaches are treated with the sap and the leaves[311 ]. The roots are used to treat swollen lymph glands[311 ]. The wood is used to treat stomach-ache and diarrhoea[311 ]. Sexual insufficiency is treated by eating the leaves cooked in coconut milk[311 ].


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Other Uses

A fibre is said to be obtained from the plant[454 ].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

A plant of the higher-rainfall areas of the lowland tropics, where it is cultivated at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 25c, but can tolerate 10 - 32c[418 ].It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,500 - 3,500mm, but tolerates 2,000 - 4,200mm[418 ]. Grows best in a position in some shade[419 ]. Prefers a well-drained, humus-rich, fertile loam, though it is tolerant of a wide range of soil types[300 ]. Dislikes water-logged soils[300 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.7 - 6.3, tolerating 5 - 7.3[418 ]. Grows best in higher-rainfall areas of the lowland tropics[300 ]. Plants take from 400 - 600 days to mature, but the stems can then remain in a suitable condition for a considerable time[300 ]. Whilst many forms of this plant contain calcium oxalate crystals (see notes above on toxicity), cultivars have been developed in India that do not contain oxalates[300 ]. 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 ]. Position in the garden: Border, Pots/Tubs, Shrubbery. They do well in pots or tubs but may only reach one to one and a half metres in height.


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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe. Germinates best at 24c. Division of the rootstock as the plant is coming into growth. Off-sets will appear at the base as it matures which can be easily transplanted.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Abis, Alu, Ape, 'Apea mamala, Babai, Biga, Birah negeri, Birah, Bisech, Boafuredhdhe, Chara kanda, Conjevoi, Daun keladi, Desa-ala, Elephant Ear, Fale, Fine, Gabi, Habarala, Hai yu, Ka, Kadard, Kape, Kebei, Kiri ala, Kiri habarala, Kradat daeng, Lai, Maanaka, Mahuya-pein, Man kachu, Manaka, Mana saru, Mana thaso, Mankachu, Mankanda, Marambu, Merukankilangu, Oht, Onak, Pai, Papao-alaka, Papao-atolong, Parum sembu, Pein-gyi, Piga, Rata-ala, Sankhasaru, Sente, Spoon Lily, Ta'amu, Te kabe, Thagong, Via, Via dalo, Via mila, Wot.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia. Central America, Chuuk, Cook Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Fiji, French Polynesia, FSM, Guam, Guianas, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Kosrae, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marianas, Marquesas, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, Northeastern India, North America, Pacific, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Pohnpei, Puerto Rico, Rotuma, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, SE Asia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South America, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tahiti, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Truk, Tuvalu, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Yap

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.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Alocasia macrorrhizosGiant Taro, Giant Elephant EarPerennial3.0 10-12 FLMHFSNM311

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.


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Expert comment


(L.) G.Don

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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