Monday, October 15, 2007

Super Size Elephant Ear

Flowers of the Super Sized Elephant Ear Colocasia gigantea 'Thailand Giant Strain'

Super Size Elephant Ear
Colocasia gigantea 'Thailand Giant Strain'
(kol-oh-KAY-see-uh) (jy-GAN-tee-uh)
Araceae (a-RAY-see-ay)
Synonyms: Giant Taro

On Friday I had a few minutes in between appointments in Pound Ridge, New York so I decided to zip over the Connecticut State Line into Stamford and the Bartlett Arboretum. It is a nice little garden with a good collection of things. Sometimes when I go to gardens that I have been to many times I see something that really blows my mind and this plant was one of them. Too bad I didn’t get a picture of the whole plant but I only had the 60mm lens and I really couldn’t line up a good shot. This the second picture in a couple of weeks to feature use of the flash. Two out of about 420 posts, it could be a trend. Here is a link to Plant Delights Nursery’s catalog with an amazing picture and some more information on the plant:
click here

Foliage detail of Super Size Elephant Ears showing part of the 4 to 5 foot leaves.

The leaves on the specimen I saw were not as big as the picture but still very impressive. I don’t think growing regular Elephant Ears is going to cut it anymore! At first I didn’t see the flowers (which are fragrant) underneath the huge leaves but when I moved one of them there they were and quite pretty. The flowers had a really bright white spathe with a unique geometric pattern on the spadix. Next time I will have to crawl underneath and smell them. Not enough people stop to smell the spadix :lol: All parts of the Taro or Elephant Ear are considered poisonous and need to be cooked to break down the calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves, stem and corm. I learned a new botanical term when I looked this plant up, sagittate. Which means the leaves are arrowhead-shaped.

Taro is thought to be one of the earliest cultivated plants and is still an important food source in the Pacific Rim and Hawaii. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article about Taro:

click here


Stargazer said...

Love the flowers! Very pretty. The roses are the best!

Princess Haiku said...

Hi Digital,
What an amazing flower. How big is the thing? Looks amazing. Did you get to the Chrysanthemum Festival in NY last month? I am so far away I couldn't make it. I am sure it was amazing and that gives me the idea to look online and see if there were some photos of the event posted.

George Africa said...

Greetings from Vermont, a different gardening world from Pound Ridge and Stamford...places I used to visit.

Your pictures of colocasia remind me how many people stopped at our little nursery this summer and described an Elephant Ear they had seen growing someplace. Their descriptions usually made me have to think before responding.

People are struck by the size, texture and coloration variables but really wish for a perennial. One woman told me she buys whatever taro she can find in a Viet Namese grocery in Burlington. Instead of cooking them, she pots them up.

Many thanks for your detail and good information.

George Africa

Digital Flower Pictures said...

stargazer, thanks for visiting.

princess, the flowers were pretty big maybe 4-5 inches tall on a 1.5 foot tall stalk.

George, your welcome and thanks for the interesting comment. I used to live in Southern Vermont and while it was a short season things always grew well. I would hate to have to try to overwinter this in the house. :lol: I don't know where I would live.