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 Das Pflanzenreich in 1920.
The genus, Alocasia (Schott) G.Don, was named and described as such by George Don in the 3rd edition of Sweet’s Hortus Britannicus in 1839. Plants of the World lists 84 accepted species of Alocasia (as of 1-16-20 when I am updating this page). That number could change.
In 2013 I sent photos of these plants to a well-known Aroid expert. He suggested they were Alocasia odora. Alocasia odora is known as the Giant Upright Elephant Ear. After growing this plant for several years and having it listed as Alocasia odora, I realized something was just not right. After several years and many offsets, they had never grown to over 24″ tall. I wondered how could this plant be Alocasia odora if it was so small? Then one day when I was working on the Alocasia ‘Calidora’ page, a light came on in my head. I had written it was a cross between Alocasia gageana and Alocasia odora… Alocasia odora is the Giant Upright Elephant Ear and Alocasia gageana is known as the Dwarf Upright Elephant Ear. That got me to thinking…
After some research, I realized that the leaves of both species were very similar in appearance. I then posted photos on an aroid group on Facebook. Several members agreed this plant was indeed Alocasia gageana. Several members replied with photos of theirs. I can understand why the expert misinformed me in the first place because at the time my plants were still young.
Then I had to change the name on all the photos and update this page with a different species name.
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… The parents of Alocasia ‘Portora’ are Alocasia portei and Alocasia odora. It was nearly impossible that seeds from Alocasia ‘Portora’ could have dropped in the pot because they weren’t even close.
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?
On November 18, 2012, when this photo was taken, it measured 20″ tall already.
Before I knew the species name, 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 gageana 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.
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 the 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.
The Alocasia gageana was doing very well in front of the sliding door but it was moved to the front bedroom. It didn’t like the change and almost went completely dormant. I knew it would eventually be OK, though.
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!
When cooler temperatures were approaching, I had to bring the plants inside for the winter.
I took the plants inside for the winter on October 16. I put all one Alocasia gageana on a table to the right and the other in front of the sliding door in the dining room.
The tallest Alocasia gageana on the table in the basement was 13 1/2″ tall.
I had always kept the Alocasia gageana upstairs in front of the sliding door over the winter. This time I had four larger pots and three smaller pots. I chose one pot and left the others in the basement. After a couple of months, it started acting like it was going dormant, so I took it to the basement and brought up a different pot.
Back outside and doing well on June 9, 2018. Two of them almost went dormant over the winter, but they will be fine.
Even by June 28 the plants n the two pots in the middle are doing better than the other two. When some Alocasia go dormant it takes a long time for them to come back to life…
I really like the Alocasia gageana even though they are much smaller than by other Alocasia. There are MANY REALLY NICE smaller Aloe species that are rarely found in commerce.
The Alocasia gageana all pretty much went dormant by the time this past winter was over. I put their pots behind the shed and they eventually came back to life. Since the Japanese Beetles were back in full swing, I decided to put them on the front porch. Normally the beetles don’t seem to bother the Aroids, but this year they started on the Cannas, Zantedeschia (Calla) and even snacked on the Colocasia ‘Distant Memory’.
As usual, the Alocasia gageana have all done quite well. Even though they don’t get near as big as the other Alocasia in my collection, I have found them delightful and undemanding. They always send up A LOT of offsets. I needed to repot them and add more potting soil but I didn’t do that until in January (2020).
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.