Colocasia ‘Tea Cups’/‘Coffee Cups’/’Big Dipper’
I bought my first Colocasia ‘Tea Cups’ from Wellspring Gardens in the spring 0f 2009 and my second from them in the spring of 2012. In 2012 I also bought a Colocasia ‘Bikini Tini’ from Wellspring. They are really neat plants with their cup-shaped leaves that hold water during a rain. When they get so much water in them, the leaf tips to dump it out then fills again. I like the dark color of the leaves, the dark veins and the dark purple color of the petioles.
According to Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery, Colocasia ‘Coffee Cup’s is often “mislabeled” as Colocasia ‘Tea Cups’. Their catalog also states that most Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ “previously” sold in the US are actually Colocasia ‘Big Dipper’. Interestingly enough, with proper research, you can find out the origin of most Colocasia cultivars. Try that with Colocasia ‘Tea Cups’ and you won’t find an answer probably because it was a created industry name and not a “registered” cultivar name.
SO, to correctly write a tribute to this plant, I would have to say it is genuinely a Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ because of the shape of the leaves. Colocasia ‘Big Dipper’ does not have as much of a “scoop” or “cup” that ‘Coffee Cups” have. I would also have to say that I can’t correctly call it a ‘Tea Cups’ because that name is not even correct, even though that is what I bought. There is no point trying to tell who you buy plants from their name is incorrect though. Many growers simply buy plants wholesale from a grower who may even buy from another source… SO they pass the incorrect names on to the other and then to the consumer.
Also, according to Tony Avent of Plant Delights, Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ was found in the wild of Indonesia by horticulturalist Gregory Hambali and brought to the US by aroid expert Alan Galloway. SEE, you can find the origin!
Many websites describe C. ‘Coffee Cups’ and ‘Tea Cups’ as a Colocasia esculenta, others, who know better, aren’t even using a species name at all. Even Dave’s Garden, who is a pretty reliable source of information, is saying Colocasia esculenta. Personally, and believe me I am no expert, it is impossible for this plant to be a Colocasia esculenta. Grow ANY Colocasia esculenta next to a Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’, or even Colocasia antiquorum/fontanesii, and you will definitely see the difference. In fact, for my vote, whatever the true species of the Black Stem Colocasia is, that is also what species Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ and ‘Big Dipper’ is. They have the same dark purple petioles and dark olive green leaves.
I ran across a website comparing the difference between Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ and ‘Tea Cups’ a while back. They said one was a little larger than the other and that was about it. Anyone who has grown Colocasia, or any plant for that matter, know that plant size is variable. Buying different plants from the same source doesn’t prove they are different plants either. Even the most reliable sources can also be wrong about the names. I consider Brent and Becky’s Bulbs a very reliable source, and they offer Colocasia ’Tea Cups’ probably because that is what their source calls them.
Although I wrote a separate page for Colocasia ‘Bikini Tini’, I will mention it again here. Colocasia ’Bikini Tini’ is pretty much the same as Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ that was selected for cold hardiness. Introduced by Aroid expert Brian Williams of Brian’s Botanicals,
Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ grows to a height of around 6′. They are cold hardy in USDA Zones 8a to 10b. They prefer full sun to part shade and grow best in fertile, well-drained soil. They also like plenty of moisture. This variety of Colocasia sends out above ground runners, usually in the fall.
One thing I have learned about growing Colocasia, buying top sized bulbs or larger plants is best. You may pay a little more than for starter plants, but they get off to a much better start. That depends, too, on the species and cultivar (and possibly their source).
Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ (aka. ‘Tea Cups’) on 7-19-12, #111-11. Plants from Plant Delights are more expensive but they are larger and they are very reputable. Brent and Becky’s are good sized plants, but I am not so sure if their perennials and other plants are grown and shipped by them (in 2012, they were not and their catalogs stated that). Brian’s Botanicals prices are very reasonable and of a nice size. They also offer bulbs on some species and hybrids. Plus, he is an aroid expert and breeder.
Regretfully, I did not bring this plant with me when I moved from the mansion in Mississippi back to the family farm in February 2013. Someday I will purchase another Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, I would like to hear from you.