Scientific name

Cyrtosperma Griffith

Common names




Could be confused with

Lasia, Lasimorpha, Urospatha

Native distribution

Southeast Asia and Oceania

Species commonly cultivated

Cyrtosperma johnstonii N.E. Br. (probably Solomon Islands)

C. merkusii (Hassk.) Schott (Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines)

Adventive distribution


Weed status

not weedy


large emergent plant in shallow water

Brief description

Perennial, emergent (up to 4 m tall) on short, tuberous rhizome. Leaves in apical rosette; petioles elongate (up to 3 m), densely warty or spiny; leaf blade very large, strongly sagittate, without spines, venation palmate. Inflorescence a spadix subtended by an open spathe; peduncle spiny; spadix shorter than spathe. Flowers bisexual. Fruit fleshy with numerous red berries. Dispersal by edible fruits.

Natural habitat

swamps and shallow, still waters

Additional comments

A genus comprising 11 species, of which only two are considered aquatic or bog plants. Cyrtosperma johnstonii is the most commonly cultivated species for ponds. Due to its large size, Cyrtosperma is not suitable for aquariums, and it is most commonly found as a tropical pond plant in botanical gardens. Cyrtosperma merkusii, also known as swamp taro, is used as an important food source that is similar to taro (Colocasia spp.) in western Pacific Islands. Swamp taro must be treated before it can be eaten.