Scientific name

Colocasia Schott

Common names

elephant ear, taro, yam



Native distribution


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)


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.