Taro, cocoyam, elephant ears, eddo, dasheen (Colocasia and Alocasia species)

Elephant Ear Plant leafAll plants in these groups have large, arrowhead or heart shaped leaves (8-50 inches long), sometimes up to 1.8 meters (6 feet) tall, that grow from a very short stem. The large rootstock (corn) is thick, fleshy, and filled with starch.  It grows just below the ground surface.  Flowers do grow at the end of a short stalk but are typically hidden by the leaves.

Where to Find: These plants grow in the humid tropics. Look for them in fields and near homesites and villages.

Edible Parts: All parts of the plant are edible when boiled or roasted. When boiling, change the water once to get rid of any poison.  Roots can be boiled and eaten like potatoes.

Note: If eaten raw, these plants will cause a serious inflammation of the mouth and throat including numbness and swelling of the tongue and throat that can result in difficult breathing.  The lower parts of the plant contain more poison than the top-most parts.

Elephant ears growing in the wild

A patch of Elephant Ear plants

Elephant Ear

The underside of the plant's leaf

A new growth

The rootstock or "corns" can be boiled and eaten like potatoes

Color Drawing of the plant illustratit the leaf, stalk, and othe plant components