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  Taro vs. Elephant Ear
From: StellrJ <StellrJ at aol.com> on 1998.05.18 at 02:17:51(2162)
I have a question about Colocasia esculenta. I know that this is the species
grown in tropical countries as a root vegetable; I believe it is also the
usual species sold in this country (United States) as an ornamental. Now, I
have heard stories to the effect that elephant ear is poisonous; indeed, my
mother tells the story of her experience dealing with a little girl who ate
some elephant ear leaves and was poisoned, the calcium oxalate crystals
burning her mouth and throat. However, when I was in Trinidad, W.I., I ate
meals including a sauce called callaloo, made from the taro leaf. My question
is, is the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous a matter of
preparation/cooking, or is it a matter of cultivar? If the cultivars
available for ornamental use in this country are poisonous, then I have no
reason to buy them, as my interest in taro is as a vegetable. Any advice?

From: "Julius Boos" <ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 1998.05.18 at 12:54:19(2164)
I give this opinion as a person born and raised on the Island of Trinidad,
W.I., and who has lived in the U.S.A. for13 years and have observerd and
sought out ALL edible and ornimental Aroids, both as a hobby and as a
regular part of my diet.
The mix-up of names given to Aroids being sold in Florida is amazing, and in
an effort to "streamline" this, Lester Kallus and myself created a web page
last year that lists some of the available Aroids and some of the "common"
names they are sometimes sold under and their scientific names. You can
check this page out at--

New ones are appearing on a regular basis, and only yesterday while trying
to determine any differences between a "new" arrival from Costa Rica (?) on
sale at Winn Dixe and "red co co" from a Jamaican store, obtained another
"local name" for this new one from a lady from Nicaragua. She says that it
is called "quequisque" in her homeland, probably a Mayan word. This "new"
Xanthosoma is alreadly called "malanga lila" (lilac) by the owner of the
Jamaican store to distinguish it from the Jamaican "red co co" which is
Xanthosoma Violacium. I have checked both sets of tubers/corms closely and
am unable to distinguish between them, but they grow into VERY different
looking plants.
All of these edible aroids must be throughly cooked before eating to
neutralize the calcium oxalate crystals. Some species are MUCH worse than
others, so it is a combination of preparation/ cooking AND cultivar, so
stick to the ones available at your food stores, and I refer anyone to Deni
Bowns book for a long discussion on this.
If you would like copies of recipes for most edible aroids (including the
famous callaloo soup, e-mail me privately and I will send them to you.
These are from the talk with cooked Aroid meals that I gave at the meeting
of our Aroid society in Miami last year.
Julius Boos

From: Mitsukiwi <Mitsukiwi at aol.com> on 1998.05.18 at 21:24:36(2165)
In a message dated 5/18/98 8:44:50 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ju-
bo@email.msn.com writes:

<< The mix-up of names given to Aroids being sold in Florida is amazing, and

From: Lester Kallus <lkallus at earthlink.net> on 1998.05.18 at 21:31:45(2166)
Actually, Julian, I've moved my web site. I couldn't resist purchasing
rites to my own domain (for only $70). You can now access the edible aroid
list at:

I apologize for not having let you know earlier.

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