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Colocasia esculenta


Elephant ears

Synonym(s): Colocasia antiquorum
Family: Araceae (Arum Family)
Duration and Habit: Perennial Herb


Photographer: Charles T. Bryson
Source: USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Description

Perennial herb to 1.5 m (4 ft) tall, with thick shoots from a large corm; slender stolons also often produced, along with offshoot corms. Leaf blades to 60 cm (24 in) long and 50 cm (20 in) wide, arrowhead shaped, with upper surface dark green and velvety; leaves peltate (stalked from back of blade); petioles large, succulent, often purplish near top. Inflorescence on a fleshy stalk shorter than leaf petioles; part of fleshy stalk enveloped by a long yellow bract (spathe). Flowers tiny, densely crowded on upper part of fleshy stalk, with female flowers below and male flowers above. Fruit a small berry, in clusters on the fleshy stalk.

Ecological Threat: Taro invades wetland areas and colonizes lake banks, forming dense growth. Outcompetes native species, thus altering natural habitat and ecosystem processes; reduces biodiversity.It will forms dense stands along lakes and rivers where it completely eliminates native plant species.

Biology & Spread: Reproduces primarily vegetatively, via culm fragmentation and budding at the base of the plant. Disturbance greatly encourages its spread.

History: Introduced to the United States in 1910 as a substitute crop for potatoes. Later cultivated as an ornamental. Numerous varieties continue to be sold.

U.S. Habitat: Needs soil that is moist to wet, mildly acidic, and rich in organic material. Found spreading along wetland fringes as well as stream, ditch, canal, and lake banks.

Distribution

U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.

Native Origin: tropical Asia (Bailey, L.H. and E.Z. Bailey, Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada, MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York , (1977).); India, Southeast Asia (NatureServe Explorer)

U.S. Present: AL, FL, GA, HI, LA, MS, NC, PR, SC, TX

Distribution: Occurs in the southeastern U.S. west to southeast Texas, as well as Puerto Rico and Hawaii. Common in local residential and urban areas; naturalized along banks of bayous and lakes within the Lower Galveston Bay watershed.

Mapping

Invaders of Texas Map: Colocasia esculenta
EDDMapS: Colocasia esculenta
USDA Plants Texas County Map: Colocasia esculenta

Invaders of Texas Observations

List All Observations of Colocasia esculenta reported by Citizen Scientists

Resembles/Alternatives

Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata).

Management

1% solutions of 2,4-D, triclopyr, or glyphosate have provided effective control within 6 weeks of application. In mechanical removal, all care must be taken to keep the plant intact, as remaining fragments will readily germinate.

USE PESTICIDES WISELY: ALWAYS READ THE ENTIRE PESTICIDE LABEL CAREFULLY, FOLLOW ALL MIXING AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS AND WEAR ALL RECOMMENDED PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR AND CLOTHING. CONTACT YOUR STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL PESTICIDE USE REQUIREMENTS, RESTRICTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS. MENTION OF PESTICIDE PRODUCTS ON THIS WEB SITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ENDORSEMENT OF ANY MATERIAL.

Text References

Floridata. Colocasia esculenta. Accessed 19 August 2010 (http://www.floridata.com/ref/c/colo_esc.cfm).

Florida Exotic Plant Pest Council. Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott. Accessed 19 August 2010 (http://www.fleppc.org/ID_book/Colocasia%20esculenta.pdf).

Online Resources

The Quiet Invasion: A Guide to Invasive Plants of the Galveston Bay Area. Lisa Gonzalez and Jeff DallaRosa. Houston Advanced Research Center, 2006.

Search Online

Google Search: Colocasia esculenta
Google Images: Colocasia esculenta
NatureServe Explorer: Colocasia esculenta
USDA Plants: Colocasia esculenta
Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States: Colocasia esculenta
Bugwood Network Images: Colocasia esculenta

Last Updated: 2007-11-08 by LBJWFC
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