Chinese Taro
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Chinese Taro
P Native Photo: Huirem Bhabini
Common name: Chinese Taro, Hooded Dwarf Elephant Ear • Manipuri: ꯍꯣꯡꯉꯨ ꯀꯛꯂꯥ Hong-ngoo kakla
Botanical name: Alocasia cucullata    Family: Araceae (Arum family)
Synonyms: Arum cucullatum, Colocasia rugosa, Alocasia rugosa

Chinese Taro is a clump forming herb, small to medium sized, somewhat robust, up to 1 m, evergreen. Stems are erect, hypogeal, basally much branched. Leaves arise many together; leaf-stalk weakly D-shaped in cross section, 25-30 cm, sheath reaching to about 1/2 way, margins membranous; leaf blade broadly ovate-heart-shaped, 10-40 x 7-28 cm, base shallowly heart-shaped, tip pointed; primary veins 4 on each side, radiating from leaf-stalk, arching, interprimary veins not forming a collective vein. Inflorescences are rarely produced, usually solitary, sometimes paired, among leaf bases, subtended by membranous cataphylls; flower-cluster-stalk are 20-30 cm. Spathe green, 9-15 cm; proximal spathe 4-8 × about 2.5 cm; limb narrowly boat-shaped, 5-10 x 3-5 cm, spadix 8-14 cm. Fruit is rarely produced, a nearly spherical berry, 6-8 mm in diameter, ripening red. Chinese Taro is found by watersides, by fields, wild or cultivated, below 2000 m, in China, Bangladesh, NE India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam. It is an important good-luck plant in Buddhist temples in Laos and Thailand. Flowering: May.
Medicinal uses: The plants are used externally for detoxifying viper bites and are also used for treating abscesses, rheumatism, and arthritis.

Identification credit: Huirem Bhabini Photographed in Imphal, Manipur.

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