Alocasia macrorrhizos

Alocasia macrorrhizos

Alocasia macrorrhizos or Elephant Ear is a spectacular plant with huge leaves.

Give it plenty of water and fertilizer and it will reward you with vigorous growth.

This giant can be grown in the garden as well as indoors.

In colder climates it is best grown in pots and overwintered indoors, although it can withstand light frost.

Description:

Alocasia macrorrhizos is a huge arum-like with thickened underground rhizome or tuber. In tropical conditions it forms a trunk of 10 cm in diameter and about 2 m high. In culture, it is rarely higher than 2 m high.

The leaves grow from the tuber, at the center of the plant. Each new leaf is larger than the previous one. The leaf can be up to 1 m long and 60 cm wide, on a petiole of up to 130 cm long. The leaves are green, erect and arrow-shaped.

The inflorescence consists of a white spadix surrounded by a pale green bract of 15-35 cm long. They curl back with time. The male flowers are located at the top of the spadix, the female flowers at the bottom. At the end of the spadix is a yellowish appendix, at least half as large as the entire length of the spadix, and covered with small irregular grooves.

The fruits are red berries of 1 cm in diameter, each containing a few light brown seeds of 4 mm in diameter.

Use:

  • ornamental
  • edible provided that they are cooked for a very long time (several hours) because the plant is poisonous in all parts
  • medicine: the juice is used as an antidote to the skin for burning by plants (nettles, sugar cane)

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Ape, Cunjevoi, Elephant Ear, Giant Alocasia, Giant Elephant´s Ears, Giant Taro, Malanga, Metallic Taro, Pai, Upright Elephant Ear, Wild Taro

Synonyms:

Alocasia alba, Alocasia crassifolia, Alocasia indica, Alocasia macrorrhiza, Arum indicum, Colocasia indica

Etymology:

Alocasia: from the Greek a- (without) and locasia (lotus root)
Macrorrhizos: from the Greek makros (big) and rhizoma (root)

Alocasia macrorrhizos inflorescence

Alocasia macrorrhizos inflorescence

Origin:

South-east Asia, but now widespread throughout the tropics

Habitat:

Tropical rainforest. Often found around human settlements.

Hardiness:

USDA zones 9-11: above ground parts die back at 0 °C, tuber resistant to -4 °C for short periods

Care:

Soil:

Fertile and moist

Exposure:

Full sun

Water:

Plenty of water, substrate may be wet. Can be grown in a pond provided the water contains sufficient nitrogen (fish in the will provide that) and oxygen (preferably oxygenator or a fountain or waterfall)

Fertilizer:

Regular fertilizing during the growing period: weekly with liquid universal fertilizer

Pot:

At the planting site, width is more important than the depth.

Overwintering:

Tubers can be planted in the garden for the summer, then dug up in the winter and kept sheltered from frost.The plant can also be grown outdoors in pots in the summer, indoors in the winter

Important remark:

The plant is poisonous in all parts. Touching the sap with bare skin sap may cause irritation.

Alocasia macrorrhizos fruit

Alocasia macrorrhizos fruit

Propagation:

Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • surface sow in a light substrate
  • 21-29 °C
  • germination time: 1-2 weeks

Image sources

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