taro

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arum

arum, common name for the Araceae, a plant family mainly composed of species of herbaceous terrestrial and epiphytic plants found in moist to wet habitats of the tropics and subtropics; some are native to temperate zones. The family is characterized by an inflorescence consisting of a single spadix (a fleshy spike bearing small flowers) and a usually showy and flowerlike bract (modified leaf) called a spathe, which surrounds the spadix. The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) of Sumatra, which also is grown in a number of botanical gardens, has one of the largest inflorescences of any plant, the spadix reaching a height of 10–15 ft (3–4.6 m) above the ground.

Common Species

Commonly cultivated for their showy inflorescences are the arum lilies, or callas (genus Zantedeschia), native to tropical and S Africa; the common florists' white-spathed calla lily is Z. aethiopica. The wild calla, or water arum (Calla palustris), of E North America and other northern regions is similar to the calla lily but smaller and is not usually cultivated.

Several plants of the arum family are grown (often as house plants) for their ornamental foliage, e.g., species of the genera Monstera, Philodendron, and Caladium, all native to the American tropics. Monstera is a vine popular for its perforated and deeply lobed leaves. Philodendron, usually a climbing shrub in the tropics, is now one of the most popular house plants. Caladium, noted for its multicolored foliage, is sometimes mistakenly called elephant's-ear, a name properly applied to taro (Colocasia esculenta) or dasheen.

Taro, with its large, starchy corms or rootstocks (characteristic of the arum family) is a major source of food in the Pacific islands and East Asia; in Hawaii it is the main ingredient of poi. Some 1,000 varieties are now cultivated in many warm regions, including the S United States; as a food plant it is known by many local names.

Plants of the arum family native to the United States are found chiefly in the eastern and central states; all species are bog or aquatic plants except Arisaema, which grows in moist woodlands. The jack-in-the-pulpit, or Indian turnip (A. triphyllum), has a spadix (jack) enveloped by a purplish-striped spathe (the pulpit). Its starchy corms were eaten by the Native Americans, as were those of the tuckahoe or Indian bread, sweet flag (Acorus calamus), and skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). The latter two and the jack-in-the-pulpit were sources of medicinal substances. Sweet flag, found in many north temperate regions, yields flavorings and calamus, a perfume oil.

Skunk cabbage, found in both E Asia and E North America, is one of the most abundant and earliest-blooming northern wildflowers. The unpleasant odor noticeable when the plant is bruised is produced by the acrid sap, which contains needle-shaped crystals of calcium oxalate, called raphides, that are formed as a metabolic byproduct. This acridity, characteristic of the arum family, is removed from the corms by cooking.

Classification

The family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Arales.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Taro

 

(Colocasia esculenta), a tropical perennial plant of the family Araceae. The large tubers of taro, weighing up to 4 kg, are used as food, boiled or fried like potatoes; the young etiolated leaves are cooked like asparagus. Taro is one of the most ancient cultivated plants. It is grown mainly in the moist tropical and subtropical regions of the eastern hemisphere and is an especially popular food in Oceania. It can be cultivated on the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

taro

1. an aroid plant, Colocasia esculenta, cultivated in the tropics for its large edible rootstock
2. the rootstock of this plant
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Based on this it can be argued that endophytic microbial community of Colocasia esculenta might have also been influenced by high amount of oxalate in its living tissue.
[21.] Onyeka J Status of Cocoyam (Colocasia esculenta and Xanthosoma spp) in West and Central Africa: Production, Household Importance and the Threat from Leaf Blight.
Phytochemical screening and antibacterial activity of Western region wild leaf Colocasia esculenta .
Tubers (cormels) of six breeding lines (Amadumbe 2914, Amadumbe 3053, Amadumbe 43, Amadumbe 56, Amadumbe Amzam 3553/5118 and Amadumbe 2919) of the eddoe type of taro (Colocasia esculenta var.
(2007) who worked with four plant species, including Colocasia esculenta. This confirms that different plant species develop diverse mechanisms to accumulate and tolerate heavy metal, most certainly depending on the specific environmental conditions.
The granules of Colocasia antiquorum presented a truncated ellipsoidal shape (Figure 2) similar to that reported in [2, 17] for Colocasia esculenta starch.
Properties of starches obtained from Colocasia esculenta and Artocarpus communs.
The movement of food crops between Africa and Asia dates as far back as the third millennium bce and involves a variety of basic staples such as sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) and finger millet (Eleusine coracana), numerous varieties of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) from Africa to South and South-east Asia; and banana (Musa x paradisiaca), water yam (Dioscorea alata), taro or cocoyam (Colocasia esculenta), coconut (Cocos nucifera) and common or broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) to Africa and Madagascar.
(2011) manifiestan que se reducen los costos de produccion al incluir 20 % de ensilaje de hojas y peciolos de Tithonia diversifolia con un 75 % de Colocasia esculenta, en la dieta de los cerdos; y que se puede dar 50 % de follaje de Tithonia diversifolia con 50 % de Colocasia esculenta, adicionados con melaza, sin que se afecte la digestibilidad ni se perjudique el peso final de los animales.
Colocasia esculenta was used by the TMPs against malnutrition and anemia.