Alocasia macrorrhiza, better known as upright elephant ear or giant taro, is a perennial with massive leaves and a prominent specimen plant for the landscape. A member of the Arum family, it is typically grown in tropical climates.
Leaves on the taro are rightly called elephant ears-- they are 3 to 6 feet long and 2 to 4 feet wide and a glossy, medium green. Taro is grown for its foliage.
Taro grows well in partial shade, but it can tolerate full shade. The soil needs to be well drained and moist. Rich soil, with fertilizer additions, is a safe bet.
Taro is hardy in tropical environments. It grows well in Zones 9 to 11 in the U.S.
To propagate taro, you will need to cut between the stems on the rhizomes to yield new plants to transplant. These root well from spring to early summer.
The genus that incorporates taro, Alocasia, has around 70 different species. These are all indigenous to Southeast Asia and are related to the genus Colocasia. At one time they were in the same genus, but today they are separate.
Taro can cause stomach upset if not cooked properly and eaten. The sap of taro can also be a skin irritant. Take special care in touching and eating elephant ears.
taro, Alocasia, elephant ears
About this Author
T.M. Samuels has been a freelance writer since 1993. She has published works in "Arthritis Today," "Alabama Living" and "Mature Years," and is the author of a gardening book. Samuels studied pre-medicine at Berry College.