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Taro Root

Pictured above; taro root


Taro common name for a tropical plant grown primarily as a root vegetable for its edible corm, and secondarily as a leaf vegetable. Its flowers are more rarely eaten. Taro is closely related to elephant ear and Caladium, plants commonly grown as ornamentals. The Genus Colocasia contains about 8 species distributed throughout Polynesia and Indo-Malaysia (Wagner, Herbst, and Sohmer, 1999).

Taro is a traditional staple in many tropical areas of the world, and is the base for poi in Hawai'i. The plant is actually inedible if ingested raw because of raphides in the plant cells. Severe gastrointestinal distress can occur unless the plant is properly processed first.

Taro can be grown in pond fields or in upland situations where watering is supplied by rainfall or by supplemental irrigation. Some varieties of taro can also be grown away from the tropics, in places such as Korea and Japan. In Korea, the corm is stewed and the leaf stem is stir-fried. Typical upland varieties presently grown in Hawai‘i are Lehua maoli and Bun long, the latter widely known as Chinese taro. Bun long is used for making taro chips. Dasheen (also called "eddo") is another "dryland" variety of C. esculenta grown for its edible corms or sometimes just as an ornamental plant. In Africa, this plant is typically called "taro cocoyam".


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