Elelphant Ear Plant
Elephant ear plants have been in cultivation for over 28,000 years. Because Colocasia has been in cultivation for so long, no one knows for sure where it truly is native, but all evidence points to somewhere in Southeast Asia. All parts of the plant are edible if they are thoroughly steamed or boiled to first remove calcium oxalate crystals. The cooked leaves are used in Hawaiian luaus and the corms are mashed into poi. Prior to the mid-1800s, Colocasia were a staple food crop and the native Hawaiians cultivated hundreds of varieties. Modern agricultural crops have supplanted Colocasia in Hawaii and the number of commercially grown varieties has plummeted. However, beginning in the 20th century, agricultural scientists started to preserve the Hawaiian Colocasia varieties and breed new ones. These breeding efforts have also led to the development of many new ornamental varieties.
© Denise Woldring
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