coco yam, wild taro

Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott

U.S. Nativity: Exotic
Habit: Herb

Synonym(s): elephant's ears, dasheen

Colocasia esculenta is a perennial forb that originates from a large corm and can grow to 4 ft. (1.5 m) in height.
Leaves, supported by 3 ft. (1 m) long petioles, are arrowhead shaped, up to 2 ft. (0.6 m) long and 1.6 ft. (0.5 m) wide, peltate and velvety on the upper surface.
Flowering seldom occurs outside of the native range. Flowers, when present, are small and densely crowded at the apex of a fleshy stalk.
Plants spread vegetatively through rhizomes, stolons, offshoot corms or vegetative fragments. Fruit are small berries, but are rarely produced.
Ecological Threat
Colocasia esculenta can tolerate a wide range of wet to dry sites. It easily invades wetland edges, swamps, blackwater streams and riverine forests. Colocasia esculenta can form dense stands outcompeting native plants. It is native to Africa and was first brought to the Americas as a food crop for slaves. In 1910, Colocasia esculenta was also promoted as an alternative crop to potatoes by the USDA. There are similar native species and some similar exotic species but in all of these similar species their petioles attach to the margin of the leaf blades rather than in the middle as with Colocasia esculenta.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Invasive Species Management Plans for Florida - University of Florida - Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants
Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas - University of Florida