Taro (Colocasia Fallax)

Plant: Table of Contents

Taro (Colocasia fallax): A Comprehensive Guide

The taro plant, scientifically known as Colocasia fallax, is a staple in many tropical and subtropical regions. It is valued for its starchy corms (underground storage stem) and nutritious leaves, and has cultural significance in various parts of the world. This comprehensive guide will explore the various aspects of taro, including its cultivation, uses, care, and potential health benefits.

Key Takeaways

  • Taro, also known as Colocasia fallax, is a versatile plant with edible roots and leaves.
  • Taro can be grown for culinary purposes or ornamental use in gardens and landscapes.
  • Proper care, including attention to water, sunlight, and soil conditions, is essential for successful taro cultivation.
  • Taro is susceptible to certain diseases and pests, requiring preventive measures and early diagnosis for effective management.
  • Understanding the cultural and historical significance of taro can provide valuable insights into its uses and symbolism.

What is Taro?

Taro (Colocasia fallax) is a herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the Araceae family. It is native to Southeast Asia and is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible corms and leaves. Taro is known by various other names, including dasheen, eddo, and cocoyam. The plant is characterized by large, heart-shaped leaves and tuberous roots, and it has a significant role in the traditional cuisines and cultures of many regions.

Taro is often associated with waterlogged conditions as it thrives in moist or wet soils. Its starchy corms are a staple food in many Pacific islands and Asian countries, where they are used in a variety of traditional dishes. The leaves of the taro plant are also edible and can be prepared in a similar way to spinach or other leafy greens.



Taro has a wide range of uses, both culinary and non-culinary. The corms and leaves of the taro plant are utilized in various traditional dishes across different cultures. Additionally, taro has cultural and symbolic significance in many societies. As an ornamental plant, it is used in landscaping and gardening to add tropical flair to outdoor spaces.

Culinary Uses

  • Corms: Taro corms are a common ingredient in many traditional dishes. They can be boiled, steamed, fried, or mashed, and are used in soups, stews, and as a nutritious side dish.
  • Leaves: Taro leaves are cooked and consumed in a similar way to spinach or kale. They can be used in stir-fries, soups, and stews.

Non-Culinary Uses

  • Ornamental: Taro is often grown for its ornamental value. Its large, lush leaves and striking appearance make it a popular choice for landscaping and garden decoration.
  • Symbolism: In some cultures, taro is associated with prosperity, sustenance, and fertility. It holds symbolic importance in ceremonies and rituals.


Taro plants require consistently moist soil to thrive. Adequate water is essential for the growth and development of both the corms and leaves. When cultivated in containers or gardens, taro should be provided with sufficient water to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. In regions with dry or arid climates, supplementary irrigation may be necessary to maintain the required moisture levels.


Taro plants thrive in partial shade to full sun conditions. While they can tolerate some shade, providing ample sunlight promotes vigorous growth and the development of healthy foliage. However, in extremely hot climates, especially during the peak of summer, some shade may be beneficial to prevent the leaves from scorching.


Proper nutrition is crucial for the successful cultivation of taro. A balanced fertilizer, rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, can support the growth of healthy foliage and robust corms. Organic fertilizers, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can also be beneficial for enriching the soil and providing essential nutrients to the plants.


Taro plants thrive in rich, organic soils with good drainage. Loamy soils with ample organic matter create favorable growing conditions for taro. Additionally, slightly acidic to neutral pH levels (6.0-6.8) are generally preferred by taro plants. Prior to planting, preparing the soil by incorporating organic matter and ensuring proper drainage can significantly benefit the growth and development of taro.


Pruning is not a common practice for taro plants, especially when they are cultivated for their edible corms and leaves. However, the removal of dead or damaged foliage can promote a tidy appearance and prevent the spread of diseases. Regularly inspecting the plant for any signs of disease or pest infestation can guide targeted pruning, if necessary.


Taro can be propagated through corms or by planting the “tops” of mature corms. When using corms, it is important to select healthy, disease-free specimens for propagation. The tops of mature corms, which contain the growing points, can also be utilized for propagation by planting them in a suitable growing medium. Proper planting depth and moisture levels are crucial for successful propagation from corms or corm tops.

Container Popularity

Growing taro in containers is increasingly popular, especially in regions where the climate may not be conducive to outdoor cultivation. Container-grown taro can thrive in a well-draining potting mix and can be positioned strategically to receive adequate sunlight without being exposed to excessively hot temperatures.

Common Diseases

Like many plants, taro is susceptible to certain diseases that can affect its growth and overall health. Common diseases that may affect taro plants include:
* Taro Leaf Blight: This fungal disease can result in extensive damage to the leaves, affecting the plant’s ability to photosynthesize and produce energy.
* Root Rot: This disease is often caused by waterlogged soil conditions, leading to the rotting of the corms and roots.
* Leaf Spot: Various fungal and bacterial pathogens may cause leaf spot, resulting in discolored, necrotic areas on the leaves.

Disease Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of diseases is essential for effective management and control. Regular inspection of the plant for any signs of discoloration, lesions, or unusual growth can help in identifying potential issues. Additionally, consulting with local agricultural extension services or plant pathologists can provide valuable guidance in diagnosing and managing diseases affecting taro plants.

Common Pests

Taro plants may be vulnerable to certain pests that can impact their growth and overall productivity. Common pests that may affect taro include:
* Taro Beetle: The beetle larvae can feed on the corms, causing damage to the underground storage stem.
* Aphids: These small insects can infest the foliage, causing distortion and damage to the leaves.

Botanist’s Tips

Here are some additional tips from botanists and horticulturists for successful taro cultivation:
* Regular Monitoring: Regularly monitor the plants for any signs of stress, disease, or pest infestation.
* Proper Drainage: Ensure that the growing area or containers provide adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root diseases.
* Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants can help conserve moisture and regulate soil temperature.

Fun Facts

  • Taro has a long history of cultivation and consumption, with evidence of its use dating back thousands of years in various parts of the world.
  • The leaves of some taro varieties are used to make traditional dishes such as Hawaiian poi and other culinary specialties in Pacific island cultures.
  • Taro holds cultural and symbolic significance in many societies and is often associated with fertility, prosperity, and abundance.

Links to External Resources

For more information about taro cultivation, traditional uses, and culinary recipes, explore the following external resources:
* Taro Plant: Growing and Caring for Taro
* Cultural and Culinary Significance of Taro

In conclusion, taro (Colocasia fallax) is a versatile and culturally significant plant that offers a range of culinary uses and ornamental appeal. Understanding the key factors involved in taro cultivation, such as water, sunlight, and soil requirements, can enable successful growth and productivity. Additionally, awareness of common diseases and pests, coupled with proper care and maintenance, can help ensure the health and vigor of taro plants. Whether grown for its nutritional benefits or symbolic significance, taro holds a special place in the hearts and kitchens of many around the world.

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Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.