Elephant ear without tubers?

diane4_2009October 25, 2009

I purchased an elephant ear from a nursery already planted and sitting in water. I placed it in my pond and it grew very well. Now I have taken the plant out of the pot and do not see any tubers just a mass of roots. The base of the plants look a lot like leeks with very healthy white roots. How do I overwinter this plant without repotting until spring as I leave for the winter. I expected to find tubers. Thanks for your help. I am a reasonably experienced water gardener but have never had elephant ear in the pond. Thanks for your help

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Nevermore44 - 6a

I had the same thing happen to mine last year. Some made tubers... and others were just the roots. These were all planted in the ground.

I cut all down after the frost and dug them up for storage.. only the bulbs lived for this year.

So if you want to keep them.. i would try to overwinter them somehow in a lighted/warm spot.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 2:32PM
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pat_c(5/ N W OHIO)

I'm not sure that I am correct here BUT elephant ear has a bulb that can be dug up year to year and stored to be planted again in the spring. Taro, a different species, which looks like elephant ear, has roots and has to be wintered over inside.. Again, I am not sure but I think they are two different plants.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 12:02PM
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horton(6 b Ontario.)

Pat they are one and the same.
Elephant Ear's [Colocasia Esculenta] is one type of plant that is called Taro [from which Poi is made], or Eddo or Dasheen or Kalo and so the list of names goes on, depending on which part of the world you live and eat this type of plant.

Other plants of the family Araceae/Aroideae, include, but is not limited to, Alocasia, Xanthosoma and even Caladium, to name just a few of the more common ones.

It seems nowadays, that if the plant produces large leaves then the "Elephant Ear's" title is applied to them regardless.

It is a subject that seems to become more confusing the more one delves into it.
Not all of the types of plants in this family produce corm/bulbs that are edible. Some just produce roots and runners. Some produce both corms/bulbs, roots and also runners. Some can be more toxic than others.
I hope you are now as confused as everyone else is about these plants and the names they are given.LOL

Here is a link that might be useful: Elephant Ear information

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 4:26PM
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"Pat they are one and the same." Oh my Lord! LOL! Don't ever tell a botanist that! LOL!

Pat, search the Gardenweb. There are very informative threads at other forums regarding the Elephant Ear plant. It's a very popular plant!


    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 3:26PM
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horton(6 b Ontario.)

I seem to be missing your point Nance?
Are you saying that Colacasia Esculenta, the 'Elephant Ears' plant, is not known as taro?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 7:43AM
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Oh no, it definately is but I was just thinking how a botanist would react to that sentence. A plant that has the same botanical name as another does not mean both plants are the same. Botanists get kinda picky on stuff like that! LOL! You know, kinda like telling an arborist that a red oak and black oak are the same. ;-)

I did however find differences between the two plants, as noted by botanists no doubt, on the link you gave. When on your link, scroll down to the bottom where it says SEE ALSO and click the floridata link. Scroll down to about mid-way on that page and you will find this paragraph...

"Taro is superficially similar to other large-leaved arums such as the true elephant ears (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) and the arrow arums (Peltrandra spp.), but taro is the only one with peltate leaves."

And if you search within that same site using the scientific name Xanthosoma sagittifolium you will wind up on this page; http://www.floridata.com/ref/a/aloc_mac.cfm. And on that page you will find this paragraph...

"Giant taro is similar to other large-leafed arums such as the true elephant ears (Xanthosoma sagittifolium), the arrow arums (Peltrandra spp.), and dasheen (Colocasia esculenta), often called "taro." Giant taro differs from the others in having an upright stem and holding its leaves upright, and in several technical characteristics that mean a lot to the botanists. Numerous hybrids have been produced from among the various elephant ear species, and it's not always possible to identify particular specimens."

I guess then the difference between the two is in their leaves, according to your link anyway. There are probably tons of others, as you say, that would disagree.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 11:40PM
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horton(6 b Ontario.)

Nance, you are so right!
I was trying to keep it simple without going to deep into the confusing subject of "What plant have I got"?

I guess I should have stated that the plant Pat was talking about is likely Colocasia Esculenta [Taro] which is most commonly called "Elephant Ear Plant", since it is so easy to reproduce, market and sell in garden centers and nurseries.

In one article that I read about the name "Elephant Ears Plant", the writer stated that the only "thing" with elephant ears was an elephant! It went onto say the the garden centers and nurseries were sticking the label "Taro" or "Elephant Ears" on any large leaved plant they had in stock without concern for its origin or species.

I have linked a site below that has an abundance of information on these plants and lots of beautiful pictures. You maybe aware of it already, 'The Exotic Rain Forest' owned by, Steve and Janice Lucas? They have put together a very comprehensive, interesting web site.
Anyway I hope you and anyone else enjoys the site and it helps with plant identification.

Here is a link that might be useful: Exotic Rain Forest.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 8:38AM
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pat_c(5/ N W OHIO)

How 'bout this ( to save my foolish pride) Some Elephant Ear/Taro plants have bulbs and some don't OR things are not as they seem? Regardless. Some you can dig up and store, others, you can't. OK?! OK.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 11:07AM
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Oh but Pat, you were correct in saying the two plants are different species! It was your unsuredness about the difference between the two, being roots or bulbs, that made me curious enough to dig deeper and consequently find that everything and anything looking similiar to an elephant ear is called an elephant ear, just like the info Horton found. Some believe there is a true Elephant Ear, others..not so much. Here are links to one of my favorite sources, the Missouri Botanical Gardens. If you search in the Plant Finder for elephant ear you will come up empty.



Plants do not always perform the way we expect either and the Gardenweb is a great source for searching out why. I typed in ELEPHANT EAR and several discussions on the plant came up. Scroll down to number nine and on.


Here is a link that might be useful: Elephant ear search

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 1:23PM
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horton(6 b Ontario.)

Pat there was nothing foolish in your post at all, you asked a legitimate question and your pride is rightfully intact. ;-)

The "Elephant Ears" title as you can see, by the information contained on the Exotic Rain Forest web site,has become a free for all.
Is it any wonder there is confusion among pond and gardening folks as to what is really what? We rely on the garden centers,plant nurseries, etc to give out the proper information about the plants they sell.
They may as well just call it the "Super Duper Plant" and it will sell like wildfire, regardless of what it really is!!
Take care,

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 1:38PM
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horton(6 b Ontario.)

Another link that maybe of interest is at the bottom.
I just found out that "Exoticrainforest" posts regularly over on the Aroid forum.
Excellent information to be had about these fascinating plants.

diane4_2009, that's the place to ask your original question.


Here is a link that might be useful: Aroid Forum link, Re, Exotic Rain Forest

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 3:24PM
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