Common name: taro
Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott APNI*
Synonyms: Colocasia antiquorum Schott APNI*
Description: Robust herb to c. 1 m high; stem a tuberous creeping to decumbent rhizome, usually producing stolons [or tuberous offsets].
Leaves variable in size; lamina cordate, to c. 60 cm long, 30 cm wide, peltate, spreading to hanging, ± glaucous; petiole to c. 1 m long.
Inflorescence to c. 30 cm long; spathe convolute and green in the lower part, the limb lanceolate, acuminate, not opening wide, yellow. Spadix much shorter than spathe, to c. 12 cm long, highly fragrant; appendix rudimentary to absent, and the male part of spadix ± clavate.
Berry ellipsoid, 3–5 mm long, red; infructescence protected by lower part of spathe.
Distribution and occurrence: Occasionally naturalized in open marshy places; coastal districts north from Wyong. Native of Qld, N.T., W.A., Indomalesia to Japan & Pac.Is.
NSW subdivisions: *NC, *CC, *LHI
Other Australian states: *Qld *W.A. *N.T.
C. esculenta var. antiquorum (Schott) F. T. Hubb. & Rehder, with tuberous rhizome and clustered offsets, is cultivated for the starch-filled stem, as are numerous cultivars of the type variety. C. esculenta cv. 'Fontanesii', a purple-leaved triploid from Sri Lanka, is commonly cultivated as an ornamental. Wild forms are generally characterized by relatively undeveloped rhizomes and the production of vigorous stolons, resulting in the formation of colonies.
Text by A. Hay
Taxon concept: P.S. Green (1994)
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