Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’
Leucocasia gigantea (Blume) Schott. is now once again the correct and accepted scientific name for this species. It was named and described by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott in Oesterreichisches Botanisches Wochenblatt in 1857.
Colocasia gigantea (Blume) Hook.f. is now the synonym of this species. It was first described by that name by Joseph Dalton Hooker in The Flora of British India in 1893. It was first described as Caladium giganteum by Carl (Karl) Ludwig von Blume in Catalogus in 1823.
When I first started The Belmont Rooster blog in 2013 I was using The Plant List for plant name research. Then, in 2017, I found out The Plant List was no longer maintained and started using Plants of the World Online by Kew. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew launched this site in 2017. I still thought Colocasia gigantea was an accepted name and really paid no attention that it wouldn’t be. Then, in 2018, when I started adding links for further information (at the bottom of the page), I couldn’t find Colocasia gigantea on the list of accepted Colocasia species on POWO. Upon further investigation, I found out the name had changed.
I am not sure when (maybe 2016), but fairly recent testing showed that the Colocasia gigantea was more closely related to Alocasia than Colocasia. Due to its other unique characteristics, it was reclassified back to Leucocasia gigantea. Back into a genus of its own for now. Some information suggests Leucocasia gigantea is a natural cross between Colocasia esculenta and Alocasia macrorrhizos. That would be weird because their flowers and the way they grow are much different than those of the Leucocasia gigantea.
MAN! I had a lot of photos to rename and change Colocasia to Leucocasia everywhere I typed the name… What if they change it back again? Well, I decided NOT to go back and change the name in previous posts. GEEZ!
I bought my first Colocasia gigantea, as it was called then, from Wellspring Gardens in the spring of 2009 then my first ‘Thailand Giant’ strain in 2012.
The first Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ I bought died and I had to get another one. The owner of Wellspring Gardens told me that this species doesn’t like as much water when they are small as the other species of Colocasia do… SO, following his advice, the next one survived.
It grew HUGE leaves and did very well, but I had to keep bricks around the base because it kept falling over with the weight.
I don’t know why I didn’t take more photos of the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ in 2012. In part because I was borrowing a friends camera and his settings were weird, even after I adjusted them.
When I sold the mansion and moved back to the family farm in February 2013 and I forgot to bring this plant. I knew someday I would buy another one.
The interesting thing is that it never grew as large as it should have, according to information online… Although it did grow larger than the first, ummm, Leucocasia gigantea I had bought in 2009.
There are several local greenhouses owned by the Amish. When I first came back here in 2013, I only knew of one until my sister mentioned a second one in 2016. Then I found out there were actually four. SO, when she came for a plant shopping visit, we went to three of them and skipped the fourth. This year (2017) we went to all four. It’s a good thing because I found this Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ from Wildwood Greenhouse, the one we skipped last year. I keep checking to see if I am spelling Leucocasia correctly.
I transplanted my new friend in the bed on the north side of the house. I had planted three of the larger Colocasia esculenta bulbs in this flower bed but one rotted for some reason. I had always wanted a Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ for this spot and I found one at a garden center in Clinton. However, I didn’t want to pay the price they were asking so I had to pass. Then, while I was plant shopping with my sister on May 20, I found one for half the price but I had run out of money. So, I went back and bought it a few days later on May 26. The problem was, I had already bought the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ so I just planted the Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ behind it. As you can see in the photo, I had to put a brick next to the plant to keep it from falling over just like I did in Mississippi.
ZONES: 8a-10b (some websites say zone 7 with LOTS of mulch)
SIZE: 6-10’, depending on the conditions and age of the plant by the end of the growing season.
LIGHT: Sun to part shade
WATER: Does not like a lot of water when young. After it gets established it likes as much as it can get.
SOIL: Prefer rich soil because they are heavy feeders
I think the Colocasia esculenta were slightly smaller than the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ when I planted it.
The Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ was looking really good when the above photo was taken only after about a month. You can see a leaf of the Colocasia esculenta in the upper right side of this photo.
The Colocasia esculenta started growing SUPER FAST during July. They were about the same height as the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ when this photo was taken on July 19, 2012. Next thing I knew, all three plants were the same height.
The Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ was 54″ tall when this photo was taken on August 20, 2017. The largest leaf was 42″ long x 33″ wide.
I placed a quarter in the center of the leaf to give you a better idea of how HUGE it is. I know other people have larger, but this is pretty HUGE to me.
When I first planted the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ I thought there would have been no way the Colocasia esculenta could have caught up with it. Well, they did. Not only that, the biggest Colocasia esculenta leaf was longer than the biggest one on the Colocasia gigantea but not as wide. It is like they have been in a race. This is the first year my Colocasia esculenta grew this large since I moved back here. I was really impressed!
The leaves of the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ don’t droop downward like the Colocasia esculenta, but not quite upwards like the Alocasia. You can see the slight curve where the petiole enters the leaf apex.
The base of the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ is HUGE. I think I can remove the brick now…
When I came back to the front porch after feeding the chickens on September 16, I was very surprised to see the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ had a flower! BUT, it didn’t stop with one… The Colocasia esculenta flowered up a storm in Mississippi but they never have here. The season isn’t long enough I guess. It is so funny how I “think” I know what the plants are doing then I see this flower this big before I even noticed!
Within a few days, there was not only the second one, but the third has also started to peek out.
I measured the base and it was 4 1/2″ in diameter. I thought that was pretty big. I measured the Colocasia esculenta next to it and it was just about as big.
Looking very good in the morning sun on 9-23-17. The Coleus ‘Spiced Curry’ is also looking great!
I took the above photo while standing on the porch instead of in front of the plant. On 9-23-17, there are four flowers and a fifth one starting… What is really weird is how they are all growing from the same petiole… If you are new to Colocasia and Alocasia (many other Aroids do the same), each new petiole/leaf comes out of the petiole of the one before it. GEEZ! Let me rephrase that… The FIRST petiole, which most “normal” people would call a stem, that comes up from the bulb (bulb, tuber or rhizome) grows a leaf on the top. Within a few days, you will notice a “ridge” forming on the petiole. Next thing you know, it opens up and a new petiole and leaf pop out. Then after it grows a while it does the same thing. As the plant produces new petioles and the old ones die off, the bulb gets larger. I think this is really neat how all these flowers are coming from the same place that a petiole and leaf came from earlier.
Next year I am going to have to plant the ‘Thailand Giant farther away from the porch.
I am starting to run out of words.
I took this photo to show you what it looks like from the top.
From this view, it looked like the ‘Thailand Giant’ was much larger than the Colocasia esculenta but they are actually the same height.
I had originally thought the, whatever it is, in the center was another set of flowers starting. I am not sure what that is called… It is like a petiole with no leaf.
Well, as usual for this time of the year, we finally got zapped on October 28.
After a couple more “F’s” I decided I better go ahead and dig up the Colocasia (and Leucocasia) bulbs so I could store them in the basement for the winter.
The bulb measures approximately 5″ across (after “burning” an inch) and the biggest Colocasia esculenta was around the same size. VERY GOOD!
I kept them in a bucket for a few days but I noticed something weird with the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’. The Colocasia esculenta went ahead and went dormant as usual, but this one wanted to keep growing. I had never overwintered a Colocasia gigantea, I mean leucocasia gigantea, so maybe I should have left it in the ground for a while longer. It stayed green… Live and learn…
After a few days, I cut off the petioles more and moved it to the potato bin where it would be in the dark. I checked it off and on during the winter and it was always fine. But, when it was almost time to plant, the bulb had rotted…
When my sister came down to go plant shopping again in the spring of 2018, we went back to where I had bought the ‘Thailand Giant’ in 2017. He said he got his order in too late and his supplier didn’t have anymore. So, I checked online and bought what was supposed to be a ‘Thailand Giant’ bulb from a seller on Ebay. I was suspicious but I bought one out of curiosity. When its first leaf unfurled I could tell something was weird. After several months, and even a couple of variegated leaves, I really knew something wasn’t right. I posted photos on an Aroid group on September 16 on Facebook and found out it was a Xanthosoma. So, I had to change the name on all the photos and work on a new page.
You can view the page about the Xanthosoma sagittifolium HERE.
Fortunately, I found another Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ at Wildwood Greenhouse in 2019. The tag says it is from Proven Winners, which is a division of Walters Gardens. They are pretty reputable but you never know what growers employees go with plants. So many times I buy plants with labels from reputable breeders only to find the growers have gotten tags mixed up and the plants don’t turn out to be what I have bought. I think it was safe to say this plant is as labeled.
I planted it kind of in the center of the north bed because I was waiting for a friend to send a Xsanthosoma sagittifolium which was going where the ‘Thailand Giant’ was before. Unfortunately, he didn’t send it…
The soil in this area isn’t the best in the world so I amended it with composted cow manure before I planted it.
The leaves of Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ are lighter color green and more rounded than Colocasia esculenta and broader. The leaves are a bit larger than comparably sized plants when younger.
I know one would think that your Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ should take off growing like mad once you get it in the ground. After all, they are supposed to get HUGE eventually so you may expect them to grow faster than a Colocasia esculenta.
Patience is a virtue, so they say. Here is already has an offset on June 22. That’s a good sign it is growing well beneath the soil.
It seemed like slowly but surely was the plan in 2019. We had plenty of rain in 2019 so moisture was not a problem. It was doing well and I know I was just being impatient. I know it will soon take off.
And, it did! On August 20, it was the same height as it was on the same date in 2017. 54″ tall.
I had noticed a few days earlier the plant was doing this “weird thing” like it did the last time before it flowered. Then, on September 3, I saw its first flower.
Of course, I will keep adding more photos as time goes by.
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.