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PlantFiles: Upright Elephant Ear, Giant Taro, Wild Taro
Alocasia macrorrhizos

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Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Alocasia (a-loh-KAY-see-uh) (Info)
Species: macrorrhizos (mak-roh-RY-zos) (Info)

Synonym:Alocasia crassifolia
Synonym:Alocasia indica
Synonym:Alocasia macrorrhiza
Synonym:Alocasia plumbea
Synonym:Colocasia indica

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

24 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Bulbs
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Height:
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Spacing:
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade
Full Shade

Danger:
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Cream/Tan

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year

Foliage:
Grown for foliage
Evergreen
Herbaceous
Chartreuse/Yellow
Smooth-Textured

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

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to view:

By Thaumaturgist
Thumbnail #1 of Alocasia macrorrhizos by Thaumaturgist

By henryr10
Thumbnail #2 of Alocasia macrorrhizos by henryr10

By amorning1
Thumbnail #3 of Alocasia macrorrhizos by amorning1

By pickaxer
Thumbnail #4 of Alocasia macrorrhizos by pickaxer

By suncatcheracres
Thumbnail #5 of Alocasia macrorrhizos by suncatcheracres

By henryr10
Thumbnail #6 of Alocasia macrorrhizos by henryr10

By jasminesmom
Thumbnail #7 of Alocasia macrorrhizos by jasminesmom

There are a total of 27 photos.
Click here to view them all!

Profile:

15 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive joraines On Jun 12, 2013, joraines from Inman, SC wrote:

Bought this plant this past spring in a warmer zone in our state and brought it to the Upstate, zone 7b, and planted it in the muddy margins beside our very long goldfish pond with some Black Kow in the planting hole. It gets partial shade and very late day setting sun and has thrived and put out new growth. I don't dig up the other elephant ears I have though it is recommended for our zone and they come back fine and have spread. I am debating leaving this one in the ground as well. Was glad to read of another gardener who does the same in the same zone and has it come back.

Positive braun06 On Oct 11, 2010, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is a cool plant. It takes a daily heavy watering and weekly fertilizing to grow well. I saved the bulbs at the base of the leaves and place them in my basement in a dry place over winter. The bulbs however rotted in storage. To successfully store the bulbs, dry them before storage in the sunlight outside over a couple days when temps are above 45 degrees.

Positive mswestover On Oct 28, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have moved mine a couple of time to find the right spot. There was no tuber, only a large mass of very large roots. The leaves point skyward, unlike other elephant ears. I protect the trunk with a blanket and a trash can during freezes.

Positive chuck7701 On Apr 10, 2009, chuck7701 from McKinney, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Fast growing large glossy green upright leaves once it sprouts, easily reach 8-10 feet with right conditions in one season. In areas of freezing temps, before first freeze I suggest digging up the bulbs, break off the smaller ones, let dry and store in the garage or attic over winter. If tops survive and come back, may flower in second year.

If the tops freeze, the main bulb becomes the mother bulb the following spring, no flowering. Tried mulching them in the ground, but could never prevent losing the tops in my area. Grows best in cooler soil with very wet roots, like a bog, drainage or heavily watered.

Positive Kamille On Jun 27, 2007, Kamille from Luling, LA wrote:

I was given an Elephant Ear plant a few weeks ago, and don't know why but the leaves keep turning yellow. It's one leaf at a time. I'm not sure if I am in area 9a or 9b. (Some sites even have me as 8b.) Anyway, it gets lots of water but I am unsure of the sun needs..maybe the sun is too hot here in the New Orleans area for full sun. In spite of this, it is growing and multiplying very fast! It's a beautiful plant and as my yard is full sun, I am hoping to grow it in the southern and western half of my house to help provide shade.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Mar 16, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

This might be the most misidentified plant on Dave's Garden. I think less than half the photos are of A.macrorrhizos- not sure what the others are.
A staple of the tropical type garden.Hardy to mid 20's,loves much watering and fertilizer.In the bay area can take full sun but might be a little yellowed. Develops a trunk up to at least 4'..stake if you want taller because at that height they may snap under there own weight.


Editor's Note

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The questionable image should be first brought to the photographer's attention for input and discussion. That can be accomplished by sending them a dmail message or by clicking on the discussion thread link beneath each photo when it's expanded to full size and adding a post with your questions and concerns.

Once the error is confirmed, it should be reported to the PF admin team via the red "Report an error" button that appears on each page of PlantFiles, preferably by the photographer. They can ask to have their photo moved to the correct PlantFile entry, or removed if it cannot be positively identified.
Positive Lily_love On Mar 16, 2007, Lily_love from Central, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

I've planted this huge Elephant Ears in a semi-shade south facing front door. Here in zone 7b, SE USA. It thrives and appeared to get bigger last two years. This are planted outside (not in pot), survived the teen's F. temp this winter, and it's poking new growths off the ground. Love this plant.

Positive WillowWasp On Jun 12, 2006, WillowWasp from Jones Creek, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have had this plant about 3-4 years and every year it surprised me with it amazing growth. This is the first year it had seed and I almost missed them becuase the growth was so thick before I cleared it out. I am really please with this plant and put it in a 5 gallon pot to take it with me when I move.
This plant had more blooms on it this year than I remember in the past. I guess it is getting enough water and fertilizer.

Positive FLtropics On Jun 18, 2005, FLtropics from Pompano Beach, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

2 of these plants are growing successfully in full sun in my garden along the southeast coast of Florida. I water it once a week if necessary in the summer and twice a week in dry months. I use palm fertilizer on it 3 times a year.

Positive BettyR On Feb 28, 2005, BettyR from Finchville, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I live in Finchville, Ky just 25 miles from Louisville, Ky and a friend several years ago gave us an Elephant Ear Plant. We actually started a new plant from it two years ago by cutting it and putting rootone on it, got two plants; one which we shared. I have the plant in a pot on our glassed in front porch which has baseboard heating, ceiling fans with lights, and a humidifier. This is where I also grow my orchids and other plants. I noticed yesterday that there is what looks like a bloom starting. After reading your comments on the forum, I am convinced. I noticed that several people mentioned how it dies back. Mine has never died back in the 4 or more years I have had it.

Positive NativePlantFan9 On Sep 30, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

The Upright Elephant Ear or Wild Taro or Giant Taro is a very attractive species great for decoration uses in fish or koi ponds, lakes, and other waterfrontages. It is also excellent if you want a green, tall mass of elephant-ear-shaped leaves as landscaping around houses outside. If you have room or a large pot, a very tropical backdrop as a houseplant. Very lush and easy to grow. Likes moist and wet areas and soil. May spread quickly outside and become invasive if not kept under control, which is needed if you don't want it taking over surroundings and native wetlands or vegetation. Overall, a very tropical foilage planting great anywhere, either indoors or oudoors - where you have space, of course, and if you can control its spread by pulling out the root and underground bulb outdoors.

MORE FACTS - Widely used as an ornamental throughout the Tropics.

Positive aviator8188 On Aug 22, 2004, aviator8188 from Murphysboro, IL (Zone 7a) wrote:

I love the look of Elephant Ears, which serve as perennials here in the southern tip of Illinois. They definitely add a 'tropical' look to any garden!

Positive amorning1 On Nov 29, 2003, amorning1 from Islamorada, FL wrote:

The 2 most common types are Plumbea nigra (black/purple stems) And Plumbea Zebrina (striped stems) Both however have the same leaf as shown in Henry's picture. There some neat tissue cultures out there with reddish stems. I have added a pic of P. Zebrina.

Neutral Toxicodendron On Sep 7, 2003, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

There are many "elephant ear" look alikes. One way to tell Colocasia from Alocasia, Xanthosoma, and others is that Colocasia is peltate (the leaf petiole attaches to the leaf blade in the center, not at an edge like all of the others). Sorry I can't offer more help on distinguishing the others. Here in Missouri, the Lowe's, Walmarts, etc all carry Colocasia bulbs.

Positive suncatcheracres On Sep 6, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

All my relatives in South Louisiana had this plant in their yards, and my Mother grew it too as it was cheap to buy the readily available, large, ridged, brown tubers. Every Spring in the Deep South you can find bins or baskets of these tubers for sale for a few dollars in garden centers of stores like Home Depot, Lowe's, WalMart, K-mart--even the grocery stores. This particular Elephant Ears is a clumper, staying where you put it, and over time the plants become quite large. The plant is native to Tropical Asia, and is evergreen down to about 29F degrees.

It will freeze to the ground here in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, but comes back reliably, getting taller, with larger leaves, every year it is in the ground. It grows larger near water, and has naturalized here in Florida, even in urban areas. In the Clearwater, Florida area there are canals with their banks lined with huge specimens of this Elephant Ear, and bananas too--both growing down into the water and screening back yards from passing boats. Native plant enthusiasts discourage their use, of course, but they are here in Florida to stay.

They are also used in Florida landscaping in flower beds up against a house, especially near the front entrance, for their dramatic and tropical appearance. They are also planted where drainpipes from gutters come down, as they love moisture, and help keep the lawn from washing out. And of course they make a dramatic backdrop for a pond.

I have never seen any growing in a pot, but I imagine if you had a big enough pot, and could water them enough, the plant would provide tropical interest in a Northern garden. Seems like a lot of work, though, as they get so large, and would probably have to be owerwintered in a greenhouse.

I agree that some of the Elephant Ears pictured above are not of the common A. macrorrhiza, or Giant Alocasia, the heirloom Elephant Ear of the Deep South, but aren't they attractive!

Neutral Thaumaturgist On Aug 11, 2003, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Bright red-colored seeds are located at the tip of the Spathe and are covered within a conical shroud. The shroud then peels off to expose the mature seeds. And then the birds and other critters are attracted by the bright red color. Eventually they disperse the seeds for future generations of the Alocasia macrorrhiza.
-------------------------------------------------------
All Colocasias, Alocasias and Xanthosomas have leaves
pointing downwards excepting Alocasia macrorrhiza.
The leaves of the A macrorrhiza always point up and hence
the name, Upright Elephant Ear.

Neutral PlanterRik On Apr 22, 2003, PlanterRik from Birmingham, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

There are many aroids that are similar in appearance. The photograph posted by easter is a Xanthosoma sagittifolia (not A. macrorrhiza). I don't know what the one is in kennedy's pictures, but it's not A. macrorrhiza. I'd love to know -- I'd love to have one! The leaves look like Remusatia vivipara, but not the growth habit. I can't comment on the inflorescense.


Editor's Note

The photos referred to in this comment have either been moved or removed. All error reports should be directed to the PF admin team via the red "Report an error" link, rather than submitted like this comment. That will ensure the PF administrators are aware of the error report and can correct it; it also avoids confusion once the error is corrected.
Positive Azalea On Sep 1, 2002, Azalea from Jonesboro, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

An Elephant Ear with large fan like leaves, growing in an up-right direction. An attractive tropical plant, may be potted.

Neutral JJsgarden On Aug 30, 2001, JJsgarden from Northern Piedmont, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Alocasias are tender tropical plants which grow from rhizomes. They are commonly known as Elephant Ears or African Masks and are grown for their beautiful leaves, which are large and either heart or spade shaped. The leaves are beautifully colored and/or variegated in shades ranging from purple, green, blueish-green, bronze and red. They prefer partial shade, well-drained soil, high humidity and frequent watering. Some varieties can be grown in or near ponds.

When grown in containers outdoors, water freely when in active growth and in the fall, decrease the water when the leaves begin to fade. Bring inside when outside temperatures are around 60F and once they seemed to have died back or slowed growth for the winter, lightly water only once in a while. In the spring, place in partial shade again and resume regular watering.

Alocasias also make excellent houseplants.



Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Montevallo, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Glendale, Arizona
Brentwood, California
Calabasas, California
Hayward, California
Oceanside, California
Perris, California
Temecula, California
Van Nuys, California
Big Pine Key, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Old Town, Florida
Orange Springs, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Seffner, Florida
Sun City Center, Florida
Titusville, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Yulee, Florida
Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Murphysboro, Illinois
Tiline, Kentucky
Denham Springs, Louisiana
Geismar, Louisiana
Gonzales, Louisiana
Luling, Louisiana
Marrero, Louisiana (2 reports)
New Orleans, Louisiana (2 reports)
Plain Dealing, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Clinton, Mississippi
Saucier, Mississippi
Toomsuba, Mississippi
Springfield, Missouri
Poughkeepsie, New York
Staten Island, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Huntersville, North Carolina
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Conneaut, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2 reports)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Beaufort, South Carolina (2 reports)
Bluffton, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina (2 reports)
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Inman, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina (2 reports)
Moncks Corner, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Henderson, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Brazoria, Texas
Coppell, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
Lufkin, Texas
Mc Kinney, Texas
Jonesville, Virginia



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