Colocasia

Scientific name

Colocasia Schott

Common names

elephant ear, taro, yam

Family

Araceae

Native distribution

Asia

Species commonly cultivated

Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott

Adventive distribution

Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa

Weed status

a troublesome weed of waterways in numerous countries (e.g. United States and Australia)

Habit

large, emergent, amphibious, broad-leaved rosette plant

Brief description

Perennial, with large rhizomatous tuber. Stem thick, compact. Leaves in rosette, petioles long (> 2m); leaf blade large, cordate to sagittate. Inflorescence a spadix subtended by a persistent spathe; female flowers at base of spadix, males at apex, with sterile flowers between them. Perianth absent; anthers united. Dispersal by edible berries.

Natural habitat

shallow water and wet ground of all types of lowland waterways; tropical

Additional comments

For tens of thousands of years, the large tubers of Colocasia esculenta have been used as a staple starchy food in numerous tropical countries in Africa, Oceania, Asia, and Central and South America. Numerous varieties are cultivated for gardens.