Botanical name: Colocasia esculenta
How to grow it: Taro is a perennial tuber, and depending on variety can grow leaves up to 3m high. It’s a very attractive plant which can easily be confused with the ornamental Elephant ears – in fact it can be pretty hard to tell the difference.
Grown all around the world in the subtropics and tropics, will grow happily in any decent soil, but thrives in shallow water and mud. Loves the heat and full sun and will produce masses of edible tubers & leaves every year if it’s conditions are met. I’d still try it outside of the tropics, but tuber production will be smaller & plants will remain dormant for longer.
Propogation is by division of tubers which are usually dug in autumn/winter, but you can generally find propagation material all year round.
Not a great plant for pots as plants like some space for their tubers to develop.
Using it in the kitchen: All parts of Taro are edible, but poisonous until cooked thoroughly. If you ever experience a tingly feeling in your mouth whilst eating it, then it hasn’t been cooked sufficiently.
Tubers should be soaked in water for an hour before cooking, and green parts should be well cooked in water – preferably changing the water once.
Tubers can be used like potatoes – I like them boiled then roasted but theres a multitude of ways to use them – they are a staple food in many parts of the world.
The green parts are nutritious and tasty – they can be eaten as a green vegetable or added to soups, casseroles etc.
Taro is an awesome survival plant as it has such attractive foliage that can be planted amongst ornamentals and can be turned to at any time for food.