Giant Taro
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Giant Taro
P Naturalized Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Giant Taro, Upright elephant ear, Giant ape • Kannada: ಬಾಲರಾಕ್ಷ Baalaraaksha, ಮರಸಣಿಗೆ Marasanige, ಮರಸಣಿ Marasani, ಮುಂಡಿ Mundi, ಕರಿಮಣಸಂಗಿ Karimanasangi, Genasoo • Manipuri: ꯍꯣꯡꯉꯨ Hong-ngoo • Marathi: kaasaalu, madi-alum • Sanskrit: Alooka, Brihachhada, छत्रपत्र Chhatrapatra • Tamil: Merukan, Merukan kizhangu • Tangkhul: Paankhot • Mizo: Sai-dawl
Botanical name: Alocasia macrorrhizos    Family: Araceae (Arum family)
Synonyms: Alocasia cordifolia, Alocasia grandis, Alocasia pallida

Giant taro is a massive perennial with huge elephant ear leaves 3-6 ft in length and 2-4 ft wide borne on leaf stalks 2-4 ft long. The leaf-stalks emerge from a stout upright trunk that can stand 6 ft tall. Their beautiful araceous flowers grow at the end of short stalk, but are not prominent, often hidden behind the leaf leaf-stalks. The stem (a corm) is edible, but contains raphid crystals of oxalic acid that can numb and swell the tongue and pharynx. The corms require prolonged boiling before serving or processing as a food. Giant taro is similar to other large-leafed arums such as the true elephant ears (Xanthosoma sagittifolium), the arrow arums (Peltrandra spp.), and Green Taro (Colocasia esculenta) Giant taro occurs naturally in tropical forests in Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia where it grows in the forest understory in openings and along streams.

Identification credit: D.M. Mahajan Photographed in Delhi, Imphal & Navi Mumbai.

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