Flora of the Hawaiian Islands
Monocotyledon Literature for Colocasia esculenta
Staples & Herbst, 2005; Wagner et al., 1990, 1999; Whistler, 2009; Lorence & Wagner, 2019.
   Araceae -- The Aroid, Duckweed, Philodendron Family Bibliography
      Colocasia esculenta

Common name(s): kalo, taro
General Information
DistributionThought to be native to India, widely cultivated throughout the tropics.In the Hawaiian Islands, a Polynesian introduction on Ni`ihau, Kaua`i, O`ahu, Moloka`i, Lana`i, Maui, Hawai`i.

Aquatic, acaulescent, perennial herb to ca. 1 m tall, with thick, starchy underground corms, often forming clumps by offsets (daughter corms).
Leaves petiolate; petiole terete, sheathed in basal ½, 40‒180 cm long, green, green splotched with purple, or purple, fading to pink near base, sometimes with a yellow or dark red spot on adaxial surface near base; blade glaucescent on abaxial surface, ovate-cordate to sagittate-cordate, peltate, 25‒50 cm long, 12‒32 cm wide, anterior lobe 3‒4 times longer than posterior lobes, posterior lobes connate for ⅓‒¾ their length, venation dark purple to yellow on abaxial surface, green on adaxial surface, primary lateral veins 3‒8 per side.
Inflorescences 2‒7 together, peduncle 15‒50 cm long; spathe linear-lanceolate, (10‒)15‒40 cm long, constricted 4‒6 cm from base to form a greenish, oblong tube, limb deflexed, yellowish; spadix exserted, ¼‒⅓ as long as spathe, 6‒14 cm long, pistillate portion to 2.5 cm long, sterile staminate portion constricted, 1.5‒5 cm long, fertile staminate portion 2‒4 cm long, with a shorter and narrower sterile appendage; staminate flower with 3‒6 connate stamens; pistillate flower with the ovary embedded in the spadix, stigma sessile.
Fruit ellipsoid, 3‒5 mm in diameter, many-seeded.
Seeds ovoid, 1.2-1.5 mm long, 0.7-1 mm wide.
2n = 14, 22, 26, 28, 30, 36, 38, 42, 48.
Formerly one of the most important food plants in Polynesia, widely cultivated for its edible corms and leaves.
David Lorence