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COLOCASIA esculenta 'Illustris'

Image of Colocasia esculenta 'Illustris'

James H. Schutte

Family

Araceae

Botanical Name

COLOCASIA esculenta 'Illustris'

Plant Common Name

Elephant Ear, Illustris Taro, Taro

General Description

A large, tuberous perennial native to tropical Asia, taro is grown for its huge heart-shaped leaves that add drama to the landscape. Its cultivar 'Illustris' has purple-black leaves with green veins and violet leaf stalks. Sweetly fragrant flowers with large creamy-yellow spathes may appear in summer. In areas where the tubers will not overwinter in the ground, 'Illustris' can be lifted and stored in the fall, or grown in containers.

Beautiful near a water feature, taro grows well in shallow water or in any evenly moist, humus-rich, neutral to slightly acid soil. In areas with mild winters, keep it drier during its winter quiescent period outdoors in the ground. It can become invasive in tropical climates. Though used as a food source in many parts of the world, caution should be taken to properly prepare it because it contains crystals that will severely irritate the digestive system.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 7

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Bulb or Corm or Tuber

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    4'-6' / 1.2m - 1.8m

  • Width

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia, Polynesia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Purple, Light Green, Violet, Black

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Purple, Light Green, Violet, Black

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Purple, Light Green, Violet, Black

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Bog Garden, Container, Feature Plant, Herb / Vegetable, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Tropical, Water Gardens

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    No