Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Inflorescence. © CSIRO
Inflorescence and green infructescence. © R.L. Barrett
Leaf. © R.L. Barrett
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Habit and leaves. © R.L. Barrett
Habit and leaves [not vouchered]. CC-BY F. Zich
Roots. © R.L. Barrett

Schott, H.W. in Schott, H.W. & Endlicher, S.L. (1832) Meletemata Botanica : 18.

Common name

Dasheen; Taro; Elephant Ears


Essentially a herb but can grow to a height exceeding 1 m and is therefore included as a shrub. Usually characterised by the production of vigorous stolons.


Leaf blades variable in size, up to 60 x 30 cm. Petioles up to 100 cm long inserted into the leaf blade about 7-9 cm from the edge, i.e. peltate. Intramarginal vein doubled and about 1.5-2 mm inside the leaf blade margin. Base of the petiole winged for about 30 cm. Leaf blade underside grey-green. From the point of intersection of the petiole in the leaf blade the midrib extends upwards to the apex of the leaf blade while 2 veins extend downwards to the basal lobes of the leaf blade.


Inflorescence produced near the apex of the plant and inserted between the wings on the petiole of the uppermost leaf. Inflorescence enclosed in a large narrow, falcate bract (spathe) up to 20-25 cm long. Spike with sessile female flowers close to the base and sessile male flowers on the upper part with sterile flowers in the intermediate zone. Male flowers cream, female flowers green.


Features not available.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and with a disjunction to south-eastern Queensland. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 750 m. Grows in wet places beside permanent water. May also occur in Malesia. Although generally regarded as an introduced species it is possible that the stoloniferous form occurred naturally in Australia before white settlement.

Natural History & Notes

The juice of the leaf stalks is acrid, and has had a reputation in India for stopping haemorrhages, even from arteries. Cribb (1981).

In WA and NT the variety Colocasia esculenta var. aquatilis Hassk. is recognised as native, and is a stoloniferous semi-aquatic wild-type of the species. In WA the variety Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott var. esculenta is also considered present, but naturalised. Varietal taxa are not recognised in Qld and the species is considered naturalised.

Arum esculentum L., Species Plantarum Edn. 1,2 : 965(1753). Colocasia esculenta var. aquatilis Hassk., Pl. Jav. Rar. : 150(1848), Type: Java ?, Hasskarl ?.
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