Dwarf Upright Elephant Ear
Alocasia gageana Engl. & K. Krause is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Dwarf Upright Elephant Ear. It was first described by Heinrich Gustav Adolf Engler and Kurt Krause in Dad Pflanzenreich in 1920.
Alocasia odora (Lindl.) K. Koch is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Giant Upright Elephant Ear. Karl Heinrich Emile Koch described it as such in Index Seminum in 1854. It had been previously described as Caladium odorum by John Lindley in the Botanical Register in 1822. Tropicos also lists Alocasia odorum (Roxb.) K. Koch which is also a synonym. It was described as Arum odorum by William Roxburgh in Flora Indica in 1832.
In 2011 I had agreed to take in many of a good friend’s plants for a while at the mansion. During this time, a few plants started coming up in their HUGE pot of Philodendron bipinnatifidum. At first, I thought that maybe the plant was producing offsets and possibly the leaves would change. They looked like Alocasia leaves… Soon I realized that was NOT going to happen. Thomas and Tarlei had no idea and said they never had any Alocasia. SO, where these plantlets came from remains a complete mystery. Although I did have Alocasia, there were none close to their pot for seeds to fall into it. Plus, none of my Alocasia resembled the plants that grew in this pot. The only plant close enough to drop seeds would have been my Alocasia ‘Portora’. Ummm… Whose parents are Alocasia portei and Alocasia odora but that is nearly impossible.
Of course, I removed the small plants and put them in their own pots even though all the photos are of the largest one.
I had several hundred plants in pots, flower beds and a nice sized garden in 2012. Watching unfamiliar plants grow with a mysterious beginning was pretty exciting. What else would bring excitement to a gardener?
I had to use a friends camera… Let me rephrase that. My first camera was burned in a motor home fire in California in 2008. My second was stolen in 2009 or 10 at the mansion. I was borrowing a friends camera for several years, which most of my Mississippi photos were taken with. It slid off my knee one day that struck the corner of a brick which cracked my screen and there was no viewfinder. It became a “point and guess” game. Then I borrowed another friend’s camera. His settings had not been set since he said he never used the camera. I didn’t know that and took LOTS of photos and didn’t know that until I uploaded them to my computer…
On November 18, 2012, when this photo was taken, it measured 20″ tall already.
I thought somehow the leaves were one of the key features in finding out this plant’s true identity. The shape and the lateral veins are pretty distinctive.
The above photo of the larger Alocasia gageana (?) was taken in the east sunroom on 2-17-13. I had some tough decisions to make as I had sold the mansion and was going to return to the family farm in mid-Missouri. I gave up hundreds of plants…
Of course, when I moved, I took the largest Alocasia odora and gave away the other five plants.
I mentioned earlier that the plants of friends I was taking care of, the one who’s pot these Alocasia babies came from… Well, Thomas was like a brother to me. Tarlei, his wife, passed away in 2012. Thomas helped me move back to Missouri, pulling the trailer I rented behind his vehicle. It was a long 8-9 hour drive in 30-degree temps all the way. Most of my plants were in the trailer and most of them made it through OK including this Alocasia. I had to choose plants I thought would be OK in that cold of a temperature, even though it would be for just a short period of time. When we arrived at my parent’s home it was late at night and there was a lot of snow on the ground. Thomas and I put most of the plants in the basement but I put the Alocasia odora in the dining room.
While I was in Mississippi I had a blog called The Mystical Mansion and Garden. It was about the mansion, the yard, garden, and plants while I was there. Then when I moved back to Missouri I had to make a change. How could I continue posting about the plants, the garden, the farm, etc. on my blog from Mississippi? I was in Missouri now. That’s when I started the first Belmont Rooster blog.
When temps warmed up I moved the Alocasia gageana (?) to this spot next to my grandmother’s old goldfish pool. It was in this area in the early 1980’s I made a flower bed that went all the way around the fish pool. The bricks are the remnants of a sidewalk I made to go all the way around it. The trees there now were not there then. To the left of where this pot is was where I dug a shade bed for the Hosta I brought with me from Mississippi.
While I was working on the original Belmont Rooster blog in 2013, I sent photos to several aroid experts. Only one replied, Brian Williams of Brian’s Botanicals. Brian is one of the foremost Aroid experts and he suggested they were Alocasia odora. So, I put that name with all the photos of this plant I had taken before and after.
However… As time went by, I could clearly see that this plant WAS NOT an Alocasia odora. Alocasia odora is the Giant Upright Elephant Ear and this plant is very small. Upon further research, I came to the conclusion this plant must be an Alocasia gageana which is the Dwarf Upright Elephant Ear. I sent another email to Brian and didn’t hear back. Well, I am sure he gets very busy being one of the foremost aroid specialists in the country.
Alocasia odora is Giant Upright Elephant Ear and they can grow to a height of 6-8 feet tall… Mine never grew over 24″.
This Alocasia continued to send up new offsets…
When cooler temps started coming in October, it was time to bring the plants inside once again. I put this plant in front of the sliding door in the dining room again.
When it started warming up again in the spring, the plants went back outside. The Alocasia were returned to their places they had been in the year before. I didn’t take many photos in 2014. When temps started cooling off AGAIN the plants went inside AGAIN.
Well, ths Alocasia was doing AWESOME over the winter but “someone” decided they wanted to put it in the front bedroom. NO, it wasn’t me or my parents. Anyway, I knew the change would not be good but I didn’t say anything. I knew that even if this Alocasia went dormant because of it the plant would still be OK.
By June 3, 2015, the pot of Alocasia gageana (?) was coming back to life pretty well. I vowed never to let that happen again…
By July 12, 2015, Alocasia gageana (?) was looking really good once again. The cooler weather came, the plants were moved back in the house for the winter.
The above photo was the only one I took of the Alocasia gageana (?) in 2016. The pot was getting crowded but I didn’t separate any.
In June 2017 I decided it was high time I separated Alocasia gageana (?) because it was a disaster waiting to happen if I left them all in the same pot. I put the five larger plants in individual pots and gave one away. There were several smaller plants which I put three to four in a few other pots. I stuck a Coleus ‘Spiced Curry’ stem that had broken off into one of the pots.
The plants did really good in their own pots, of course, and wasted no time sending up their own offsets.
All total, there were 25 Alocasia gageana (?) in these pots!
While working on the page for Alocasia ‘Portora’, I realized something… This didn’t sink in before when I was putting the blog together (twice before) but this time it did… One of the parents of Alocasia ‘Portora’ is Alocasia odora… The common name for Alocasia odora is the Giant Upright Elephant Ear. SO, I do think after 5 years my this Alocasia has had ample time and opportunity to get much larger than 24″ they are Alocasia odora. SO, I emailed Brian Williams and sent him photos AGAIN on August 28. Several months have gone by and I STILL haven’t heard from him. SO, I will attempt once again to reach out to Aroid experts. Not knowing the right name for a plant drives me NUTS!
Now I am considering this species of Alocasia is possibly an Alocasia gageana because it also has similar leaves only in a smaller package. For now, unless someone tells me different, I am going to go ahead and call this plant Alocasia gigantea…
I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.
Seriously, how many Alocasia species with leaves like this one only grow to around 24″ tall. Very few. Consider how many species, hybrids, cultivars, etc. are available to the public in quantity, or were in 2012 or before.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.