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  Elephant ear
From: pugturd at alltel.net (Brian Williams) on 2008.03.09 at 18:02:57(17137)
Steve I find that just about all plants labeled commercially as
Elephant ear are Colocasias esculenta. The Xanthosomas are a bit harder
to find and I have rarely seen them commercially available. Yet many
times I have seen photos of Xanthosomas being used to sell Colocasias as
well as Alocasias. Caladiums are usually marked a bit better. The
colocasia in question though is very interesting. It maybe a tetraploid
possibly a triploid as it grows much larger and very rarely produces
flowers. I have only seen flowers one time. The tubers can get extremely
large 1 foot long or more and 6 to 8 inches across. I have seen a few
photos of the plant grown to 10 feet tall or more. I am not sure if this
form is used in any taro production, it would be interesting to find
more on it's origins. I have some good photos of on around 8 feet tall
or so.

From: harrywitmore at witmore.net (Harry Witmore) on 2008.03.09 at 20:54:21(17143)
All the commonly available Elephant Ears here are Colocasia esculenta. I
have seen it flower but don?t have a picture of it. Like Brian said it can
get really big here in the south. I have never seen Xanthosoma offered as
Elephant Ear here but have seen it in the grocery store as Malangua
(spelling?). I have 2 I have had for years that I got from the grocery
store. I'm not sure what the species is.

Harry Witmore

From: Steve at ExoticRainforest.com (ExoticRainforest) on 2008.03.09 at 21:51:44(17146)

Thanks Harry, Brian and Windy. This is the problem I'm seeing.

Up here my guess has been a Xanthosoma due to the huge corm. But the lobes of the leaves are rounded as would be normal for a Colocasia. They also come back year after year which would be more indicative of a Colocasia, but the corm appears different. I've photographed the spathe and spadix of Colocasia esculenta Black Magic several times and the spathe is a beautiful yellow with red. My photo is attached. But a friend sent me photos of an "Elephant Ear" that looked more like a Xanthosoma with squared off lobes. His produced a white spathe. That is where I'm confused.

I've received a couple of private emails on this subject that explain it is simply Colocasia esculenta. I can certainly accept that with no problem since I know that species produces a wide variety of leaf forms and is commonly used as a food crop. But within some species are the inflorescneces variable as well?

As Windy described, Xanthosoma sagittifolium can produce a slightly pinkish spathe. But I've seen the same species (supposedly) in South Florida with a pure white spathe. There are huge fields of them grown out near the Everglades not far from Denis' operation as a food crop and sold in South Florida grocery stores. I had a Florida botanist tell me those were all Xanthosoma sagittifolium. But I know those stores also sell the corms of Colocasia esculenta. Are all these species so variable they can not only produce a variety of leaf forms, but also a variety of inflorescences as well? That would seem to violate the generally accepted tennant that the shape and color of the spathe indicates the species.

I understand, I think. But I'm still confused! And so are a bunch of people who are posting on some of the garden sites and calling Philodendron, Anthurium, Xanthosoma, Caladium, Colocasia and others "Elephant Ears"! Basically, anything with a large leaf is now being called using the same term!

Steve Lucas

From: pugturd at alltel.net (Brian Williams) on 2008.03.10 at 17:16:43(17154)
The large rounded tubers commonly sold are almost always Colocasia
esculenta. In most cases the Xanthosomas are elongated and usually have
pink colorations in or on the tubers. I have rarely seen Xanthosomas
sold commercially, but more often they are sold as food in ethnic stores
as malanga. Colocasias are usually sold as Taro or Dalo. One of the best
ways to tell if it is a Xanthosoma is to see the color of the sap
Xanthosomas usually have white sap they also have pink to white spaths.
Their is only one Colocasia I know of with a white spath and that is
Colocasia gigantea.

From: hermine at endangeredspecies.com (hermine) on 2008.03.10 at 18:43:21(17155)
Be glad, joyous even, it is not called a Mother in law's Tongue,
which is wrong on so many levels.


From: bonaventure at optonline.net (bonaventure at optonline.net) on 2008.03.10 at 19:37:54(17156)
If I need to find plenty of inexpensive readily available Xanthosoma tubers for planting all I need to do is go to my local supermarket and find them in the produce bin marked "yautia".

BTW local east asian markets have seasonally available (fall) magnificent tubers, unfortunately just below blooming size, of "Suran" - Amorphophallus paeoniifolius. I heard these are grown in the Carribean for markets in the States.

Bonaventure Magrys

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