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Useful Tropical Plants

Amorphophallus paeoniifolius

(Dennst.) Nicolson

Araceae

+ Synonyms

Amorphophallus bangkokensis Gagnep.

Amorphophallus campanulatus Decne.

Amorphophallus chatty Andrews

Amorphophallus decurrens (Blanco) Kunth

Amorphophallus dixenii K.Larsen & S.S.Larsen

Amorphophallus dubius Blume

Amorphophallus giganteus Blume

Amorphophallus gigantiflorus Hayata

Amorphophallus malaccensis Ridl.

Amorphophallus microappendiculatus Engl.

Amorphophallus rex Prain

Amorphophallus sativus Blume

Amorphophallus virosus N.E.Br.

Arum campanulatum Roxb.

Arum decurrens Blanco

Arum phalliferum Oken

Arum rumphii Gaudich.

Arum rumphii Oken

Candarum hookeri Schott

Candarum roxburghii Schott

Candarum rumphii Schott

Conophallus giganteus Schott ex Miq.

Conophallus sativus (Blume) Schott

Dracontium paeoniifolium Dennst.

Dracontium polyphyllum Dennst.

Dracontium polyphyllum G.Forst.

Hydrosme gigantiflora (Hayata) S.S.Ying

Kunda verrucosa Raf.

Plesmonium nobile Schott

Pythion campanulatum Mart.

Common Name: Elephant Yam

Amorphophallus paeoniifolius
Plants being grown as a food crop in a woodland garden
Photograph by: Manojk
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Amorphophallus paeoniifolius Amorphophallus paeoniifolius Amorphophallus paeoniifolius Amorphophallus paeoniifolius Amorphophallus paeoniifolius Amorphophallus paeoniifolius Amorphophallus paeoniifolius Amorphophallus paeoniifolius Amorphophallus paeoniifolius

General Information

Elephant yam is a herbaceous, perennial plant producing either one or two large leaves annually that can be up to 2 metres tall. These leaves grow from a massive underground tuber that can weigh up to 25 kilos[
472
Title
Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family.
Publication
 
Author
Bown D.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-485-7
Description
An excellent treatment of the family Araceae, giving lots of information about the plants, how to grow them, their uses etc. I found it a bit disordered - if you want all the information on a specific species you have to trawl through the whole book.
].
The plant is cultivated for its edible tuber in lowland tropical Asia[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. It is an important stand-by crop in many regions, especially in years when the rice crop fails[
472
Title
Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family.
Publication
 
Author
Bown D.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-485-7
Description
An excellent treatment of the family Araceae, giving lots of information about the plants, how to grow them, their uses etc. I found it a bit disordered - if you want all the information on a specific species you have to trawl through the whole book.
].

Known Hazards

The tuber of the wild species is considered to be totally toxic and inedible, the wild plant only being used for medicineal purposes[
481
Title
Medicinal Plants in Papua New Guinea
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
World Health Organisation
Year
2009
ISBN
978-92-9061-249-0
Description
Traditional medicinal uses of 126 species from Papua New Guinea, including information on any modern research into the plants.
].
Although no specific mention has been seen for the cultivated forms of species, it belongs to a family where most of the members 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
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

E. Asia - China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, north Australia, western Pacific

Habitat

Loose leafy detritus in moist shady habitats[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Tropical conditions in secondary forests, shrub forests and grasslands in arid valley areas at elevations below 750 metres[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitPerennial
Height0.75 m
PollinatorsFlies
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

A temperature in the range of 25 - 35°c is required with an annual rainfall of 1,000 - 1,500mm[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Corm development is promoted during dry periods[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].
The best crops are produced on deep, fertile, alluvial soils that are slightly acid[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Dislikes heavy clay soils[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Plants require some shade, especially when young[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Members of this genus generally require a moist but well-drained, humus-rich, fertile soil and a position in dappled shade[
472
Title
Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family.
Publication
 
Author
Bown D.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-485-7
Description
An excellent treatment of the family Araceae, giving lots of information about the plants, how to grow them, their uses etc. I found it a bit disordered - if you want all the information on a specific species you have to trawl through the whole book.
].
The plants are usually grown on a three year cycle[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. An interesting technique used in Indonesia is to dig up the tuber after one year and then replant it upside down. This stimulates the lateral buds into growth and increases the overall size of the tuber[
472
Title
Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family.
Publication
 
Author
Bown D.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-485-7
Description
An excellent treatment of the family Araceae, giving lots of information about the plants, how to grow them, their uses etc. I found it a bit disordered - if you want all the information on a specific species you have to trawl through the whole book.
].
Yields of 20 tonnes per hectare can be achieved[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].
There are many cultivated forms, some of which have a lower content of calcium oxalate crystals and less or no alkaloids[
472
Title
Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family.
Publication
 
Author
Bown D.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-485-7
Description
An excellent treatment of the family Araceae, giving lots of information about the plants, how to grow them, their uses etc. I found it a bit disordered - if you want all the information on a specific species you have to trawl through the whole book.
].
The plant produces one or two enormous leaves and one short flowering stem annually. When ripe for pollination, the flowers have a foetid smell to attract carrion flies and midges. This smell disappears once the flowers have been pollinated[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
].
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
Title
Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family.
Publication
 
Author
Bown D.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-485-7
Description
An excellent treatment of the family Araceae, giving lots of information about the plants, how to grow them, their uses etc. I found it a bit disordered - if you want all the information on a specific species you have to trawl through the whole book.
].

Edible Uses

Corm - cooked[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
103
Title
Flowering Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Haywood. V. H.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
 
ISBN
0-19-217674-9
Description
Very readable and well illustrated, it lists plants by families giving the basic diagnostic features and some details of plant uses.
,
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
]. Acrid raw[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
], it must be thoroughly boiled or baked (see notes above on 'Known Hazards'[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
])[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
]. A very large root, it can be up to 50cm in diameter[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
243
Title
Medicinal Plants of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Dept. of Medicinal Plants. Nepal.
Year
1993
ISBN
-
Description
Terse details of the medicinal properties of Nepalese plants, including cultivated species and a few imported herbs.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]. Corms are usually harvested when three years old, at this stage they can weigh up to 9kg[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. The corms can be stored for several months at 10°c[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Some caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity. The fresh corms are turned into curd, or are chopped then dried[
472
Title
Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family.
Publication
 
Author
Bown D.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-485-7
Description
An excellent treatment of the family Araceae, giving lots of information about the plants, how to grow them, their uses etc. I found it a bit disordered - if you want all the information on a specific species you have to trawl through the whole book.
]. The curd is relatively tasteless, but it absorbs flavours well and so can be used as a carbohydrate element in a wide range of other foods[
472
Title
Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family.
Publication
 
Author
Bown D.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-485-7
Description
An excellent treatment of the family Araceae, giving lots of information about the plants, how to grow them, their uses etc. I found it a bit disordered - if you want all the information on a specific species you have to trawl through the whole book.
].

Young leaves and petioles - cooked and used as a vegetable[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. They must be thoroughly cooked[
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. Caution is advised, see notes above on possible toxicity.

Medicinal

The root is carminative, restorative, stomachic and tonic[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
,
243
Title
Medicinal Plants of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Dept. of Medicinal Plants. Nepal.
Year
1993
ISBN
-
Description
Terse details of the medicinal properties of Nepalese plants, including cultivated species and a few imported herbs.
]. It is dried and used in the treatment of piles and dysentery[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
,
243
Title
Medicinal Plants of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Dept. of Medicinal Plants. Nepal.
Year
1993
ISBN
-
Description
Terse details of the medicinal properties of Nepalese plants, including cultivated species and a few imported herbs.
,
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
]. The fresh root acts as an acrid stimulant and expectorant, it is much used in India in the treatment of acute rheumatism[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
,
243
Title
Medicinal Plants of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Dept. of Medicinal Plants. Nepal.
Year
1993
ISBN
-
Description
Terse details of the medicinal properties of Nepalese plants, including cultivated species and a few imported herbs.
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

The stem is cut, and the inside of the stem eaten raw, in the treatment of snakebites[
481
Title
Medicinal Plants in Papua New Guinea
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
World Health Organisation
Year
2009
ISBN
978-92-9061-249-0
Description
Traditional medicinal uses of 126 species from Papua New Guinea, including information on any modern research into the plants.
].
The sap from the petiole is fermented and drunk as a treatment for diarrhoea and dysentery[
481
Title
Medicinal Plants in Papua New Guinea
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
World Health Organisation
Year
2009
ISBN
978-92-9061-249-0
Description
Traditional medicinal uses of 126 species from Papua New Guinea, including information on any modern research into the plants.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Plants are often grown as an understorey crop in woodlands or in plantations of betel (Areca spp.), coconuts (Cocos nucifera), bananas (Musa spp.) or coffee (Coffea spp.)[
472
Title
Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family.
Publication
 
Author
Bown D.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-485-7
Description
An excellent treatment of the family Araceae, giving lots of information about the plants, how to grow them, their uses etc. I found it a bit disordered - if you want all the information on a specific species you have to trawl through the whole book.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - best sown in containers as soon as it is ripe and the pot sealed in a plastic bag to retain moisture. It usually germinates in 1 - 8 months at 24°c[
133
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 1.
Publication
 
Author
Rice. G. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1987
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on untill large enough to plant out.
Division of corms when the plant is dormant. Either 1 year old corms or portions of 3 year old corms are used[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].

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