Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott (Elephant ears )

 


Charles T. Bryson,
USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

 

 

 

Family: Araceae (Arum Family)

Synonym(s): Colocasia antiquorum

Duration: Perennial

Habit: Herb


Listed by:
Invasive Plant Atlas of the US: 1
Federal Noxious Weed: 0
TDA Noxious Weed: 0
TPWD Prohibited Exotic Species: 0

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 waxy; leaves peltate (stalked from back of blade); petioles large, succulent, often purplish near top. Petiole attached to leaf several inches from V-shaped notch; the petiole of a similar non-native species that can be come invasive, Arrow-Leaved Elephant Ear (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) attaches directly to the base at the notch. Inflorescence on a fleshy stalk shorter than leaf petioles; part of fleshy stalk enveloped by a long yellow bract (spathe); flowering is rare. 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.

History: Introduced to the United States in 1910 as a substitute crop for potatoes, and later cultivated as an ornamental. Numerous varieties continue to be sold in the nursery trade, despite its invasiveness, due to the economic importance of the species.

Biology & Spread: Reproduces primarily vegetatively, via culm fragmentation and budding at the base of the plant. Disturbance greatly encourages growth and facilitates its spread. Plantings alongside water bodies are a primary pathway that can result in spread.

Ecological Threat: Taro invades wetland areas and colonizes river, stream and 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 can completely eliminate native plant species in infested areas.

US 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

US 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)

US States: AL, FL, GA, HI, LA, MS, NC, PR, SC, TX

Resembles/Alternatives: Native alternatives include Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata). It resembles Arrow-leaved elephant ear (Xanthosoma sagittifolium).

Management: Herbicides with the following active ingredients have been successful in treating elephant ears (E = excellent control, G = good): triclopyr (G), glyphosate(not rated), imazapyr (E), and imazamox (E). 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.

Listing Source

Texas Department ofAgriculture Noxious Plant List
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Prohibited Exotic Species
Invaders Program
Federal Noxious Weed
Union of Concerned Scientists
United States Forest Service Southern Research Station

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).

Data Source

The Quiet Invasion: A Guide to Invasive Plants of the Galveston Bay Area. Lisa Gonzalez and Jeff DallaRosa. Houston Advanced Research Center, 2017.

Last Updated: 2020-11-06 by LBJWFC