Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is tropical perennial plant which is native to Southeastern Asia and Southern India. This leafy plant is also commonly grown for its starchy and edible tuber. The tuber, or root, is a popular ingredient in Polynesian cuisine, and is often used as a substitute for potatoes. Additionally, the Taro plant leaves may also be eaten.
Taro is also known by a variety of other names in different regions. The plant is also known as Dasheen or Cocoyam. Taro is also sometimes called “elephant ears”, a name given in reference to the appearance of the plant’s leaves.
How to grow Taro plants (Colocasia esculenta)
As Taro is a tropical perennial plant, a spring time planting is recommended. The optimal time to plant Taro plants in
Australia is during the months of August and September. Taro should be planted directly into the garden at a depth of 5-8 cms. Additionally, the best soil temperature to plant is between 20 – 35 degrees Celsius.
Taro is best grown in warm or hot and humid areas. Keeping Taro well watered is absolutely vital. Dryness will hinder the growth of this plant considerably. Taro must also be kept in a frost free environment.
The soil must be moisture retentive, light and well-draining. Water logging in the soil can cause the root to decay.
Harvesting Taro Root
In order to cultivate the best harvest, make sure your Taro plants are spaced at least 80 cms apart, as this will allow plenty of room for both the root and leaf growth. Taro may be harvested around 28 weeks after initial planting. This means that if you plant Taro during the recommended month of August, you may be able to harvest in late February. You can also tell when Taro is ready to be harvested as the leafy greens start to die down.
After harvesting, Taro may be stored in a well-ventilated, dark location for up to 2 weeks.
Eating and Cooking Taro (Colocasia esculenta)
Taro root may be prepared just like a potato. It is extremely versatile and may be boiled, steamed, fried or baked before eating. Additionally, Taro may be added to soups as an extra tasty filler veggie.
Remember to always cook Taro prior to eating as both the root and leaves can be slightly toxic if not prepared correctly.