Alocasia odora

Alocasia odora
Kew Gardens

Alocasia odora or night scented lily is a beautiful tropical plant with huge leaves.

It is very hardy and can overwinter outdoors up to USDA Zone 7. It loses its leaves but growth resumes next spring.

It is related to taro (Colocasia) but edible only after being cooked for a long time because all parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals.

Can easily be confused with Alocasia macrorrhiza because they look the same. They can be distinguished by the spathe: A. macrorrhiza has a much larger spathe (30-45 cm) that curl backwards.

Description:

Alocasia odora is a tuberous plant with large oval leaves of 130 cm long and 110 cm wide. They are heart-shaped at the base and focused at the top. The petiole is up to 150 cm long.

The flowers are unisexual, grouped in the axilla on an spadix of 13-22 cm with an often tubular spathe of 25 cm long. The male flowers appear above the female flowers. Self-pollination is possible. They spread a pleasant perfume, hence the name “Night Scented Lily”. The perfume is spread by an appendix at the top of the spadix and serves to attract flies who use the spadix as a breeding site.

The fruits are spherical and red.

In its habitat, the plant can be 7 m high and reach full height in 12 months. In culture in colder climates, it is often much smaller, 1-1.5 m high.

In tropical and subtropical climate it forms a trunk up to 1 m high.

Alocasia odora

Alocasia odora
Kew Gardens

Usage:

  • ornamental
  • edible if cooked for a long time
  • medicinal: for treatment of common cold in North Vietnam

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Giant elephant ear, night scented lily

Synonyms:

Alocasia commutata; Alocasia tonkinensis, Arum odoratum, Arum odorum, Caladium odoratissimum, Caladium odoratum, Colocasia odora

Etymology:

Alocasia: from the Greek a- (without) and locasia (lotus root)
Odora: from the Latin odorus (scented, perfumed)

Origin:

Southeast Asia

Habitat:

River bank or swamp in primary and secondary rainforest

Hardiness:

USDA zones 7-11: the plant dies of at 0 °C, the tubercle resists to -12 °C

Alocasia odora inflorescence

Alocasia odora inflorescence
Kew Gardens

Care:

Soil:

Nutritious and moist

Light:

Sun, partial shade

Water:

Abundant water, soil may be wet and even grown even in a pond

Feed:

Fertilize regularly during growing season, e.g. once a week with liquid universal fertilizer

Notice:

The plant is poisonous in all parts. Contact with juice on bare skin can cause irritation.

Alocasia odora fruit

Alocasia odora fruit

Propagation:

Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • surface sow in light and moist mixture
  • 21-29 °C
  • germination time: 1-2 weeks

Image sources

  • Alocasia odora: Own work
  • Alocasia odora: Own work
  • Alocasia odora inflorescence: Own work
  • Alocasia odora fruit: WingkLEE

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