Colocasia, Elephant Ear, Imperial Taro

Colocasia esculenta var. illustris

Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Colocasia (kol-oh-KAY-see-uh) (Info)
Species: esculenta var. illustris
Additional cultivar information:(aka Illustris)
Synonym:Colocasia antiquorum var. illustris
View this plant in a garden


Ponds and Aquatics

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


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

, (2 reports)

Birmingham, Alabama

Irvington, Alabama

Cabot, Arkansas

Brentwood, California

Clayton, California

El Sobrante, California

Escondido, California

Garden Grove, California

Oakhurst, California

Oakland, California

Oceanside, California

Palm Springs, California

San Bernardino, California

San Jose, California

Clearwater, Florida (2 reports)

Daytona Beach, Florida

Deerfield Beach, Florida

Deltona, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida (3 reports)

Keystone Heights, Florida

Lake Worth, Florida (2 reports)

Melbourne Beach, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Covington, Georgia

Dallas, Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Thomasville, Georgia

Honomu, Hawaii

Chicago, Illinois

Greenville, Indiana

Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Denham Springs, Louisiana

Franklin, Louisiana

Mandeville, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Slidell, Louisiana

Thibodaux, Louisiana

Westlake, Louisiana

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Maben, Mississippi

Ripley, Mississippi

Waynesboro, Mississippi

Roswell, New Mexico

Carmel, New York

Ithaca, New York

Rochester, New York

Clemmons, North Carolina

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Emerald Isle, North Carolina

Cincinnati, Ohio

Edmond, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Yukon, Oklahoma

Brookings, Oregon

Georgetown, South Carolina

Okatie, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Memphis, Tennessee

Westmoreland, Tennessee

Alvin, Texas

Austin, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Burleson, Texas

Cibolo, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)

Frisco, Texas

Grand Prairie, Texas

Houston, Texas (3 reports)

Mc Kinney, Texas

Murchison, Texas

Richmond, Texas

Spring, Texas

Newport News, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Eagle, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 12, 2017, JennysGarden_TN from Collierville, TN wrote:

Colocasia esculenta 'Illustris' grows well in my zone 7b garden. It returns every season producing more babies.


On Aug 1, 2013, surfmurf from between Clearwater & Largo, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I am reviewing the Elephant Ear "illustris" - It is growing in my yard in part sun and part shade, but unlike my giant Elephant Ears, it disappears during the winter season. And it is not big. Max size so far is about 18" tall with 12" long leaves with most not showing the distinct purple leaves, are only partly colored. I moved some to Full Shade and a wetter location and after only 1.5 weeks this already seems to be making a difference. Relocating two more babies today into Full Shade. I am in Zone 9b (depending on whose zone map you read). Expect to have several to trade quite soon. I like odd plants and all flowers, especially large blooms (so my old eyes can see 'em), but I have typical poor sandy Florida soil. Stay tuned. Murf


On Mar 30, 2009, beautifulchaos from Indianapolis, IN (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have had these for a couple of years now. I love the look of them. Of course, I'm a sucker for any and all elephant ears.

I had them in a protected area, between the brick of the house and pond. I let them die back in the winter of '07 and about 3 babies popped up in late spring ('08)...I was surprised, but happy to see their return. This year I'm going to stick at least one of them in the pond vs. the soil to see if there's a substantial difference in growth. At least they will stay perky that way, if nothing else.


On Feb 25, 2009, 2racingboys from Bartlett, TN (Zone 7b) wrote:

I'm in 7b just outside of Memphis & this plant has returned for me for 4 years now. I do mulch heavily (5-6") to protect it a little more. It' pretty carefree with the exception of water. I run soaker hoses alot anyway so this is not a problem. I just love these and give babies to friends & family every year.


On Jun 10, 2008, shadowpaige64507 from Birmingham, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

I live in a 7B zone and mine came back this year.


On Sep 26, 2007, peacepond from Eagle, WI wrote:

In zone 5 we bring the tarot in and grow as a house plant.They are magnificent in the pond ans propagate by themselves. I had a minehuna lily bloom against the black magic, Magnificent contrast


On Jan 21, 2007, MelJayTanner from Rochester, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

my favorite taro, very easy to grow, makes lots of babies to share with friends. My plants have always shown more dark patterning when planted in a sunny site, and I keep them in my pond so wilting is never a problem. I overwinter them indoors next to a bright window (zone 6 here) and they just lose a few leaves, then grow more and keep on going!


On Oct 24, 2006, CTMGGardener from Waterbury, CT wrote:

I have grown this plant for the last two years in a large pot in very partial sun. It grows beautifully through summer in Connecticut. It is late October now in zone 5b and the plant is still gorgeous. Right before the first major frost I bring it indoors to overwinter in the garage. It comes up in late spring again. I too had thought I lost them at first as they appeared later than expected. Slugs have not bothered it nor have I seen any insect damage. One of my favorite potted plants that make a large statement. Pairs well with Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt' and lime green sweet potato vine. I water my pots every day or so and did not think that this had greater water needs than my other pots. The plant did grow larger in the pots than in the ground probably because I have clay soil.


On Oct 5, 2006, Dennismares from Lake Worth, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Neat plant, does well here in S-FL and likes the Summer downpoors. Noticed that plants in sunnier parts of the yard developed a more intense black coloration on the leaves. We started with a #3 pot with about 10 starts about 8 months ago, now we have about 15 or so 3-4' plants with multiple 1-2' offshoots plus another 10 or so in pots.


On Apr 27, 2006, Rootworker from Covington, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I planted my Elephant ear last year and it was BEAUTIFUL, even took some baby plants and put them in pots. However this year (April), I was expecting to see them again but it looks as if its not coming back. Did it go dormant during winter or die? Its seems as though it died. What can I do during the winter to protect it?


On Jan 19, 2006, Suze_ from (Zone 7b) wrote:

I'm giving this a neutral rating, but yet I really think it's just a stunningly attractive, high impact plant. My less than complete satisfaction with it has to do with the fact that it really requires a boatload of water. And, even if you don't water it, the plant will hang on (looking horrible as it does so) and send out tons of runners.

Also, I see that the hardiness rating for this plant is entered as 9a and above -- it is easily hardy even in a cold winter in an 8a zone.


On May 2, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is another plant that needs warmer summer nights than I can provide. I tried it, it limped along and eventually failed.


On Feb 23, 2005, hardyinokc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

I have grown Illustris in my garden for 3 years now. Each year, I have to dig up numerous new "babies" that come up from underground runners. Suprisingly hardy and quite beautiful. Has taken some full sun and regular moisture.


On Nov 8, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have grown this plant and overwintered inside for about 6 years. This is a fairly fast growing plant and where I started out with 1 plant in an 8" pot, I now have had as many as many as 6, many of which I've given away. I have two large ones now; one in a 12" pot and the other in a 10," both of which will have to be divided again in spring.

This is an extremely tough plant. I usually set it outside in my water gardens in May and bring them in just before frost in the fall and overwinter in a large tub on my enclosed back porch where it's cooler. I cut them completely back to the pot when bringing in and they quickly start growing new shoots. Keep them just moist. Because I have inquistive cats, and the plant is poisonous to animals, I tend to leave them covered and j... read more


On Sep 1, 2004, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have clumps growing in full sun and also in mostly shade and don't see much of a difference. It was sold to me as "black magic" and I was worried that it was fading, but later learned it was Illustris. I love this plant. Have had it almost 4 years.


On Feb 25, 2004, SwampMama3 from Westlake, LA wrote:

The first year I grew it, I had it in complete shade. It did well, but the black could have been deeper. It survived a night at 29 deg. F, but did kind of go dormant. I eventually dug it up and brought it into my bay window, where it immediately began to crank out new leaves. When I dug it up, I also dug around and got most of it's dormant runners. I put the runner cuttings lying horizontal in a shallow pan of potting soil and kept them warm and evenly moist. They're coming up now.


On Aug 26, 2003, swinnes from Green Bay, WI wrote:

This is the third year I have grown this plant in a whiskey barrel outside during the summer. I have a greenhouse (50 degrees F.) where I pot it for the winter. It goes into a dormant stage and begins to flourish as the weather warms up. This one does not have a tuber--it has fibrous roots. Lots of water during the summer--keep it moist but not overly wet during the winter--one division did rot on me. It's a very lovely plant.


On Aug 31, 2002, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Can grow as a marginal water plant. Has blackish purple leaves with green veins.This is really a pretty plant.