Alocasia dussii Dammer
Alocasia illustris W.Bull
Aron colocasium (L.) St.-Lag.
Arum chinense L.
Arum colocasia L.
Arum colocasioides Desf.
Arum esculentum L.
Arum lividum Salisb.
Arum nymphaeifolium (Vent.) Roxb.
Arum peltatum Lam.
Caladium acre R.Br.
Caladium colocasia (L.) W.Wight
Caladium colocasioides (Desf.) Brongn.
Caladium esculentum (L.) Vent.
Caladium glycyrrhizum Fraser
Caladium nymphaeifolium Vent.
Caladium violaceum Desf.
Caladium violaceum Engl.
Calla gaby Blanco
Calla virosa Roxb.
Colocasia acris (R.Br.) Schott
Colocasia aegyptiaca Samp.
Colocasia antiquorum esculenta (L.) Schott
Colocasia colocasia (L.) Huth
Colocasia euchlora K.Koch & Linden
Colocasia formosana Hayata
Colocasia gracilis Engl.
Colocasia himalensis Royle
Colocasia konishii Hayata
Colocasia neocaledonica Van Houtte
Colocasia nymphaeifolia (Vent.) Kunth
Colocasia peltata (Lam.) Samp.
Colocasia vera Hassk.
Colocasia virosa (Roxb.) Kunth
Colocasia vulgaris Raf.
Leucocasia esculenta (L.) Nakai
Steudnera virosa (Roxb.) Prain
Zantedeschia virosa (Roxb.) K.Koch
Common Name: Taro
Photograph by: Not known
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Taro is an evergreen, perennial plant producing a cluster of leaves with long, erect petioles, growing from 40 - 200cm tall from a large, tuberous rootstock[
A very important, staple food crop in many parts of the tropics, with a long history of cultivation, it is often cultivated in humid, lowland tropical regions[
The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals. These cause an extremely unpleasant sensation similar to needles being stuck into the mouth and tongue if they are eaten, but they are easily neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water.
Widely cultivated in the tropics, its original range is uncertain but is probably tropical Asia.
Not known in a truly wild situation, though it is often established in low lying areas along streams and river banks[
Taro is a plant of the moist to humid tropics, where it can be grown at elevations up to 2,700 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 21 - 28°c, but can tolerate 10 - 35°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,800 - 2,700mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 4,100mm[
Grows best in a sunny position, tolerating light shade[
]. Prefers a fairly heavy, fertile and moisture-retentive soil that is rich in organic matter[
]. Plants require a very fertile soil[
]. Some cultivars are tolerant of high soil salinity[
]. Needs a moist soil in order to grow well - some varieties will even grow in shallow water[
]. Taro is often cultivated in paddy-type fields where it is grown in standing water for part of the time[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.3 - 8.2[
The plant can take from 6 - 18 months to produce a harvest of corms, though 7 - 10 months is the average[
]. The leaves and stems can be harvested throughout the growing period[
Yields of up to 37 tonnes/ha have been obtained in Hawaii under flooded conditions, while 25 tonnes/ha have been reported under dry-land cultivation[
]. Average yields may range from 4 - 6 tonnes/ha[
There are many named varieties[
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[
Edible corms - cooked[
]. They can be boiled, baked, fried etc in much the same way as potatoes[
]. They can be used in savoury dishes such as soups and curries, or in sweet dishes with coconut milk, sugar etc[
]. They can also be dried and then grated to make a flour[
]. The corm is a good source of starch. The starch grains are very small making them easily digestible and they are used to make baby food that is said to be non-allergenic[
]. The tubers are usually up to 30 cm long and about 15 cm in diameter[
Make sure the corm is properly cooked before eating it, see notes above on toxicity[
Young leaves - cooked[
]. Some varieties of taro are grown for their leaves, which are very nutritious[
]. They are either used to wrap other food that is baked, or are used as spinach[
]. The leaves must be cooked before eating in order to destroy the calcium oxalate crystals[
Stems - cooked[
]. Peeled, cut into pieces and boiled in stews, they taste and look a little like celery[
The plant is antibacterial and hypotensive[
A decoction of the leaves is drunk to promote menstruation[
]. A decoction, together with some parts of other plants, is taken to relieve stomach problems and to treat cysts[
In New Guinea, the leaves are heated over a fire and are applied as a poultice to boils[
The sap of the leaf stalk is used in treating conjunctivitis[
The scraped stem, together with some parts of other plants, is used to create an appetite[
The plant is used to treat wounds[
Seed - this is a cultivated species and so seed is unlikely to breed true. Plants rarely produce fertile seed[
Division of suckers[
Corms. Usually the small, unmarketable corms, 60 - 150g in weight, obtained from healthy, productive plants are used[
Larger corms can be divided into pieces and used[
The apical 1 - 2cm of the main corm, with 15 - 20cm of the leaf stalks attached[
Side suckers, growing from the main corm. In Ghana planting is mainly by use of either young suckers or mature setts cut from harvested corms. Planting material must be taken from healthy plants. Cormels are planted at a depth of 50 - 75mm[