Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott

Elephant Ears, Taro



Family: Araceae

Genus: Colocasia

Category: Perennial

Zones: 8 to 11

Size: 3' stems, clumping to 3' wide - some spread

Exposure: Sun, Filtered Sun, Part Shade


Leaves are heart-shaped to 3' long and 2' wide, peltate. Grown for foliage. Some cultivars spread more aggressively than others, sending out a side shoot or underground stems which can travel some distance before making another plant. Likes moisture, prefers part shade but tolerates full sun with more water.



Native to the Caribbean and South America.

Published in Melet. Bot. 18 in 1832.

Basionym Arum esculentum L.

Ewan (1974) listed Catesby's Natural History Volume II plate 45 as C. esculenta but Howard & Staples (1983) say that it cannot be Colocasia because Colocasia has peltate leaves. Wilbur (1990) concurs saying that neither the leaf nor the inflorescence represent C. esculenta. They all list the plate as unidentified Alocasia or Xanthosoma. Wilbur adds that the plant that Catesby refers to as having been introduced later, may be C. esculenta. Reveal however lists the plant as Xanthosoma sagittifolia.


My Experience: 

I was given a Mammoth bulb in spring 2007 and I potted it up and grew it in a large pot, overwintering in the garage until 2009 when I planted it in the Around The Pool garden in SC. It has done very well. When I planted it in the ground, it had two side plants that I separated and planted individually. All plants grew to 3' tall and wide in the first season. I purchased another Mammoth bulb from Walmart in April 2010 and planted it in the pool area. I mulched them over the winter and they returned and grew back to a similar size quickly. In summer 2011 I moved the two "babies" and the most recent bulb to a 'spare' part of the garden to make room for 2 new cultivars. In spring 2013 I dug all the spare ones and put two in the Bluebird Perennials Garden.

Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner