Elephant Ears or Taro
Types and Origins of Elephant Ear Plants
There are three types of elephant ear plants. One type is in the genus Colocasia, which there is about eight plants in the species. Colocasia elephant ears are native to southeastern Asia, as well as the tropical Polynesia area in the Pacific Ocean. Another type of plant referred to as elephant ears is in the genus Xanthosoma, native to tropical America. There is about fifty plants in the species. The third type of elephant ears are in the genus Caladium, This type is native to Central and South America. There are seven species in the group.
Elephant ears is only one of the many common names for a few species of large leaf plants within the same family, Araceae. Two other common names include "Heart of Jesus" and "Angle Wings". There are many more names for these plants. Various countries have different names for same etible root vegetables.
Colocasia Esculenta Elephant Ears
Colocasia esculenta elephant ears are called Taro in Hawaii. They are grown year round in the region as a vegetable food. The young leaves are harvested and used as a leaf vegetable. Please Note: Raw corms are toxic. They either need to be cooked or they need to go through a process called steeping to remove the toxin, calcium oxalate. The corms are usually peeled and boiled, then eaten like potatoes. In temperate climates that have warm summers, Colocasia esculenta elephant ears are considered annuals and are grown as ornamental plants. In much of the United States the corms will need to be dug up and stored for the winter. Temperatures below 50 degrees may harm the corm.
Uses for Elephant Ears
Xanthosoma elephant ears are also grown as ornamental plants and for consumption. Some common names for the roots include malanga, new cocoyam, tannia, tannier, yautía, macabo, taioba, dasheen and ‘ape. As the Latin American population increases in the United States, demand for crop is growing, thus creating a new market for taro. In this species most of the plants grow leaves that are two feet to six feet long.
A. 1st night after opening Cyclocephala bettles pollinate Xanthosoma daguense. B. 2nd night after opening, The inflorescense produces pollen and Cyclocephala leave. C. After the 3rd night, the staminate flowers and the spathe wilt and decay.
To transplant or thin elephant ears, divide the tubers during the dry season when they go dormant. The two types of elephant ears discussed above prefer moist soil. They do best in partial to full shade.
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