Taro, Elephant Ear, Etc.
According to Plants of the World Online by Kew, there are 10 accepted species in the Colocasia genus (as of when I updated this page on 10-28-18). The version 1.1 of The Plant List (updated last in 2013) mentioned only 8 accepted species along with 54 synonyms (plus an additional 31 infraspecific names). Only five were unresolved. The Plant List was a cooperative effort between the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gartdend at Kew but is no longer being maintained. The Colocasia is a member of the Araceae Family which consists of 128 genera (as of 10-28-18). The Plant List named only 117 genera in 2013. At that time, there were 3,368 species names plus an additional 111 accepted names of infraspecific rank. There were a total of 4,613 synonyms and 1,348 names that are still unresolved. I still refer to The Plant List as it is the only source of certain information that I like to know. The Wikipedia cureently still lists 10 accepted species.
My first experience with Colocasia didn’t begin until the spring of 2009 when Suzanne and I bought two Colocasia esculenta bulbs. I planted one next to the front porch and one in the backyard of the mansion. I also bought several other Colocasia plants from Wellspring Gardens in the spring of 2009 and 2012 (plus one from Brent and Becky’s). From then until the spring of 2017, the only Colocasia I had were the descendants of the original Colocasia esculenta bulbs from 2009. In 2017, I bought another a Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ from a local greenhouse. Then, I found out the name Colocasia gigantea had changed back to Leucocasia gigantea because it had characteristics that distinguished it from both Colocasia and Alocasia.
The Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ rhizome survived most of the winter stored in the basement then it decided to rot. I found a seller on Ebay that was selling “bulbs” which I thought was strange. Pretty much all other sources were selling plants from tissue culture. Out of curiosity, I bought one. It turned out to be a Xanthosoma saggitifolium…
Plant Delights has many cultivars available for a price, but you don’t have to spend that much. Brent and Becky’s, Brian’s Botanicals and even McClure and Zimmerman (just to name a few) have many to choose from that are less expensive. Try Ebay, there are always a lot there and you can find great deals! Just remember you get what you pay for. You can purchase top-sized bulbs for less than large plants in some cases, especially with Colocasia esculenta, and you would be much better off. Rarely will you find bulbs of any Colocasia other than the straight species. Others are available from tissue culture or someone’s offsets. Inexpensive plants usually mean they are starter plants that will be VERY SMALL, but they won’t stay that way. Given the right conditions, some species and cultivars will grow surprisingly fast.
There is a lot of very useful information on the internet about Colocasia and other members of the Araceae Family. You can read all you want and enjoy looking at them growing in yards here and there, but you don’t truly appreciate them until you grow them for yourself.
I am not going into a great detail about the Colocasia genus because there is already a lot online about them written by people who know far more than I do. I will tell you that growing Colocasia as big-leaved companions is very addictive. You may be content just growing Colocasia esculenta, but there are many other species, hybrids and cultivars available. Once you really get into growing Aroids, you will get the fever and the only cure is to grow more.
I don’t claim to be any kind of an expert on Aroids, I just enjoy growing big and unusual plants. The following pages are dedicated to the few Colocasia species and cultivars I have since 2009. I hope you enjoy.
It can get a bit frustrating when one website says Colocasia antiquorum is the accepted name and another says Colocasia fontanesii is the accepted name. I am talking about plant databases and not websites of companies selling them.
‘Coffee Cups’ is actually the “official” name and ‘Tea Cups’ is apparently an industry name. There are several websites that offer both either because they don’t know any better or maybe they don’t think the consumer does. Now you know…
Of course, the page is STILL under construction because I have no intention of stopping. I will continue growing Colocasia as companions and start trying new species and cultivars once again.
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. If you notice I made an error, please let me know.
Plants Delights has a very good article about growing Colocasia. You can read by clicking HERE.