Getting to Know the Taro Plant: Benefits of the Taro Leaves and Taro Roots

Getting to Know the Taro Plant: Benefits of the Taro Leaves and Taro Roots

Also known as Elephant Ears

Scientifically referred to as the ColocasiaEsculenta, Taro is a tropical plant. The Taro plant is primarily grown for its deliciously edible corms, that is, the edible roots of the plant. Thus, Taro is mostly grown as a vegetable, or, to be precise- a root vegetable.

The Taro plant is an eminent member of the plant family known as Arecaceae. The plant is known by several names in different parts of the world. Here we have listed down some of the most common and popularly used names of the Taro plant.

  • Arbi
  • Chembu
  • Dasheen
  • Eddoe
  • Elephant Ears
  • Godere
  • Kalo
  • Kosu
  • Madhumbe
  • Magogoya
  • Marope
  • Patra

Taro Stem/ Colocasia Stem

Connects the foliage to the roots

The Taro stem or the Colocasia stems are not referred to as stems but as petioles of the Taro plant. These petioles are long and thick. The petioles are known to be the only connection between the Colocasia leaves and the Taro roots.

The stems are green in colour, usually a shade lighter than that of the leaves.

What do the Taro Flowers look like?

Resembles Calla lilies

It is quite rare to find a Taro plant flowering, especially when grown indoors. However, when grown outdoors, the Taro flowers might occasionally be spotted blooming.

The Taro flowers look very similar to the Calla lilies. However, due to the large size of the Colocasia leaves, the taro flowers are seldom spotted.

Chembu Plant Leaves/ Colocasia Leaves

Rich in Vitamins A, B and C

As the name Elephant Ears seems to suggest, the Colocasia leaves are usually marked by their beautifully large size. The leaves can easily measure around 3 to 6 feet in height. The heart-shaped Colocasia leaves are a beautiful shade of deep green. However, in certain varieties, the Colocasia leaves can even be black, purple or red.

The Colocasia leaves are a great source of minerals as well as Vitamins A, B and C. The Colocasia leaves are also a good source of folate and potassium and have excellent antioxidant properties. However, make sure that you never consume the Colocasia leaves raw as they can turn out to be rather poisonous.

Both the Colocasia leaves and the Corms of Colocasia are popular delicacies, rich in nutrition. However, the Colocasia leaves are higher in protein content as compared to the Corms of Colocasia.

Taro Roots: Corms of Colocasia

Rich in fibre

The Corms of Colocasia, as they are popularly referred to, are quite a popular delicacy in several parts of the world. The dish is even considered a staple in many African, Oceanic and South Asian counterparts as well as in their cultures.

There are certain phenolic components present in Taro roots that give them a slightly purplish shade. These Corms can be consumed in many ways, whether they are baked, boiled or roasted. The corms of Colocasia have a nutty flavour due to the presence of natural sugar. The Taro roots are also rich in fibre and manganese and can have excellent effects on bone and eye health.

Chips made out of Taro roots are also growing increasingly popular in the past few years. No doubt, these taro chips are a way healthier option than regular potato chips.

Harvesting Colocasia Roots

Easy to harvest

Once planted, Taro plants usually sprout tiny stems by the end of the first week. In the next few weeks, the plant gradually takes on the shape of a bush, measuring up to around 6 feet tall. As the growth process of the plant continues, there will be a consistent supply of leaves, shoots and tubers shooting up from the plant. This allows us to continue harvesting some of the plants without causing any kind of harm or posing a serious threat to the growth of the plant.

The Colocasia roots, or as they are popularly referred to as the tubers, can easily be harvested without causing any damage to the growth of the plant. You can get it done by using a garden fork to gently lift the Taro plant just some days before the first frost of the fall.

How to grow a Taro tree?

Easy to grow

One can easily grow Taro trees from the Taro tubers. The Taro tubers are easily available in stores and nurseries, more widely available across the Asian subcontinent. However, if you are having difficulty finding the Taro tubers, you can easily order them online as well.

Here is a step-by-step guide on growing Taro trees at home through Taro tubers.

  • Prepare a planter with some good quality well-draining potting soil.
  • Place the tubers at least 6 inches deep in the soil, placing them at least 15 to 20 inches away from each other.
  • Cover the placed tubers with 2 to 3 inches of potting soil.
  • Water the Taro plants. Make sure that they remain moist consistently.
  • Shift the planters to a spot that receives lots and lots of bright sunlight.

Caring for the Arbi Plant or the ColocasiaEsculenta

Easy to care for

Caring for taro plants is not as hard as it is often made out to be. There are just a few pointers that you need to be well aware of before you go on to growing a Taro plant at home. Just make sure that you adhere to those basic care requirements of the Taro plant and you will be good to go.

  • Allotting space for the Plant:By now, we are all aware that Taro plants are bound to be given enough space owing to the large size of the Colocasia leaves. Also, if grown for consumption, you will easily need around 20 to 25 plants per person. So, do your calculation and choose a space that allows the healthy and optimum growth of the plants.
  • Choosing an Ideal Planter:If you are growing Taro plants on a large scale, growing them individually and in separate planters seems like a dumb move. Go for container trays that can easily accommodate 5 to 6 plants each. Also, make sure that the containers are deep enough to accommodate the growth of the roots. Always ensure that the containers have drainage holes at the bottom.
  • Potting Mix for the Plant:Undoubtedly enough, Taro plants love to grow in moist as well as well-draining potting soil.Ensure that the potting mix is of good quality and consists of some organic matter to boost the growth of the plants. You can also add some loam or sand to the potting mix to enhance the draining ability of the soil. Make sure that the soil pH is between 5.5 and 6.5.
  • Meeting the Light Needs:The Taro plant usually loves the sunlight. However, the plant can grow well when exposed to the sunlight for just half of the day. Too much exposure to sunlight can even prove to be harmful to the growth of the Taro plants. However, when growing under large trees, protected by the dappling of a tree, the plant can survive in sunlight for the full day as well.
  • Watering the Plant:When it comes to watering Taro plants, different Colocasia varieties have different watering requirements. Certain varieties love growing in soil that remains moist consistently, much like a paddy field, while some varieties prefer damp soil. Make sure to have the necessary information about the Colocasia varieties and water the Taro plant accordingly.
  • Temperature and Humidity:The Taro plants prefer growing in warmer temperatures. The ideal temperature range for growing the Taro plant is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In case temperatures drop below 60 degrees, make sure to shift your plant to warmer regions. As the Colocasia plant fancies high humidity levels, having a humidifier is highly advisable.
  • Fertilizing the Plant:It is important to fertilize houseplants to ensure that the plants are meeting the necessary nutrient requirements. Taro plants are known to be heavy feeders. It is advisable to use a potassium-rich diluted fertilizer on Taro plants. You can fertilize the Taro plant every two weeks in the spring and summer seasons. Avoid fertilizing the plant during the winter season.

Colocasia Varieties

There are several Colocasia varieties. Each variety of plants is unique and has different care requirements. Here we have mentioned some of the most popular and common Colocasia varieties.

AlocasiaMacrorrhizos/ Giant Taro

Also known as Giant Taro

The AlocasiaMacrorrhizos is also known as the Giant Taro as it can easily reach a height of 2 meters. The Giant Taro is native to New Guinea, Queensland and Southeast Asia. The AlocasiaMacrorrhizos is bestowed with the biggest un-split leaf in the world.

Black Taro

Also known as Black Magic

The Black Taro is more popularly referred to as the Black Magic. As the name seems to suggest, the foliage of the Black Taro is more on the purplish-black side. The Black Taro is not edible and is mostly grown as an ornamental plant.

Swamp Taro

One of the most common varieties

As the name seems to suggest, the Swamp Taro is mostly found growing in water bodies like bogs, lakes, ponds, puddles etc. This makes Swamp Taro one of the most commonly growing Colocasia varieties.

FAQS

Is taro the same as elephant ears?

Yes, Taro and Elephant Ears are two names of the same plant.

Is taro poisonous?

Not all Colocasia varieties are edible. So, if you consume a non-edible Taro, it can be poisonous. Even the edible Taro leaves can be poisonous if eaten raw.

Is eating taro plants good for you?

Yes, eating the Taro plant can be greatly beneficial. It is rich in fibre, protein, magnesium and antioxidants. The plant is also an excellent source of Vitamins A and C.

Is the taro plant an indoor plant?

The Taro plant mostly grows outdoors. However, they can be easily grown indoors as well.

Can you eat colocasia?

Yes, you can certainly eat the edible Colocasia varieties. However, they can be poisonous if consumed raw.

What is colocasia called in India?

In India, Colocasia is known by several names such as Arbi, Chembu, Dasheen, Kosu, etc.

Is colocasia poisonous?

Not all Colocasia varieties are edible. So, if you consume a non-edible Taro, it can be poisonous. Even the edible Taro leaves can be poisonous if eaten raw.

How to grow a taro Plant?

To grow the Taro plant, give them enough space. Maintain the different requirements of the plant and water it from time to time.

What is the fertilizer for the taro plant?

For growing Taro plants, it is advisable to use fertilizer rich in potassium. However, make sure that the fertilizer is diluted in half.

 


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