Colocasia

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The genus Colocasia contains herbaceous, tuberous perennials primarily grown as foliage plants, commonly called elephant ear. These dramatic, tropical-looking plants are valued for their huge arrow- or heart-shaped leaves on long, stout, succulent stems and for the color diversity they offer, which ranges from green to burgundy to almost black, with some cream variegations and patterns. Elephant ears grow best in full sun to dappled shade in environments with warm temperatures and high humidity. They are bold additions to the landscape, especially when mass planted in beds and borders, but they can also be container grown and moved inside during winter in colder climates.

Colocasia is a genus of species that range in size from 8 inches tall to over 9 feet tall, including C. fallax (silver leaf dwarf elephant ear or dwarf taro), C. gigantea (giant elephant’s ear), and C. esculenta (elephant ear or taro). C. esculenta, one of the most popular among home gardeners, is typically grown for its ornamental characteristics but also has culinary value. Grown commercially and considered an important staple in tropical regions, the corms are edible when cooked, often being made into poi, a popular dish in Hawaii. But be aware that all elephant ears are considered toxic if eaten uncooked and should be kept away from pets.