Country of origin: Vaimona Litia Plant: Black Taro
Best grown in fertile, humusy, organically rich, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Full sun generally brings out the best leaf color for this cultivar. However, in the hot summers of the St. Louis area, plants appear to do best in part shade, particularly with some light afternoon shade. When growing plants in garden soils, provide regular moisture, especially during dry summer periods, and do not allow soils to dry out. Plants may also be grown as pond marginals in up to 6″ of standing water. Plants produce prodigious amounts of growth and appreciate regular fertilization during the growing season.
Taro is an elephant’s ear cultivar which features unusual purplish-black leaves. It is a tuberous, stemless, frost-tender perennial of the arum family (see also calla lily and jack-in-the-pulpit) which typically grows 3-6′ tall and as wide. It is primarily a foliage plant with huge, heart-shaped, conspicuously-veined, downward-pointing, peltate leaves (to 2′ long) on long petioles. As the common name suggests, each leaf purportedly resembles an elephant’s ear. Calla lily-like flowers with yellowish-white spathes and spadixes are usually hidden by the foliage, but flowers are infrequently produced. Plants in the genus Colocasia are also commonly called taro (Colocasia esculenta is commercially grown as a food crop in Hawaii. Poi is made from the plant tubers).