Elephant’s ear

I am particularly fond of any plant that comes with a little tag nearby to identify it. It makes life so much easier.

This is elephant’s ear (Alocasia Macrorrhiza), also known as giant taro. In Hawaii it is known as ‘Ape. I saw this at the Hawaiian Native Plant Garden at Kohanaiki Beach Park, just north of Kailua Kona.

Native to rainforests in Borneo and Australia, elephant’s ear spread to parts of Asia and the South Pacific. It was brought to Hawaii by the Polynesians who first settled the islands, and because of this, it is known here as a canoe plant, a plant brought in the first canoes. The plant is a source of starch from the corms. The leaves and stems of taro plants can also be eaten, but giant taro causes irritation because of calcium oxalate crystals in the sap.