Re: Large leaved colocasias/alocasias/xanthosomas

Steve Marak wrote:
> Aroiders,
> Dick Mansell has posted 3 pictures (rather large - about 70K each, so be
> ready for longer download times if you look) on the Aroid ID Center - they
> are numbers 132a, 132b, and 132c. You can reach it via the IAS we page at
> or directly at
> I have at least a couple of questions - first as to its identity. The
> Tulsa Parks department grows this in several outdoor plantings during the
> summer, and they know it as Colocasia 'Fontanesii'. Looking at Tony
> Avent's catalog, he lists C. fontanesii as having large green heart shaped
> leaves with a black cast. The leaves of this Tulsa plant I'd have said
> were more sagittate than cordate, to wax formal about it.
> To further confuse the issue, there is a plant also in Tony's 1997 catalog
> listed as Colocasia 'Burgandy Stem' which he says was formerly mistakenly
> listed as C. fontanesii. This plant sends out long "wild looking" runners.
> I have a taro which also does this, and Dick Mansell has referred to a
> "cranberry taro" which exhibits this behavior. Are they all the same?
> I also have a plant which has typical Colocasia esculenta looking leaves
> when they first emerge, perhaps a bit darkish in color, but which turn
> almost pure matte black within a day or so. Anything like the "Black
> Magic" or "Voodoo" cultivar we discussed a few weeks back?
> I'm interested in getting some concensus on all these, and thought perhaps
> I would upload a few more pictures to Dick and ask those more knowledgable
> than I to comment. Any comments on this first set?
> Steve
> -- Steve Marak
> --


If the leaves on the plants at the Tulsa Parks department are sagittate
and *very*
large, it sounds more like Xanthosoma violacea than Colocasia
fontanesii.  Some distinguishing differences are that Colocasia
fontanesii spreads by runners, in my experince usually eminating in four
symmetrical directions. Xanthosoma violacea puts off "babies" closely
congregated around the main trunk.  The inflorescence
of Colocasia f.  is orange in color, and gives off an intermiitent
fragrance that smells like baked yams.  It flowers very frequently, even
here in N.C.  The flower on Xanthosoma violacea I have not seen, but I
think it would be white or off-white.  The large green Xanthosoma,
identical to Xan. violacea except for the stem color, has a huge white
bloom that is night-fragrant and smells like violets (in my olfactory
opinion).  Finally, the leaves of Xanthosoma get *much* larger, for
example , than the leaves of Colocasia esculenta, while the leaves of
Colocasia fontanesii are a grade or two smaller than Colocasia
esculenta, in my experience.  (As an aside, Colocasia f. can be grown
aqautically; I don't think this would be possible with Xanthosoma).

Regarding the "cranberry taro", I haven't grown it, but I have friends
who have.  According to what I've heard, it is nearly identical in most
respects to Colocasia fontanesii, including having frequent blooms that
are orange and quite fragrant.  It "runs" in the same way.  In addition
to the burdundy stem, it always has a burgundy "dot" in dead center of
each leaf.

I hope this helps.  

Clarence Hester

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