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Re: [Aroid-l] Alocasia robusta & Colocasia gigantea

  • Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Alocasia robusta & Colocasia gigantea
  • From: "David S." maui4me@charter.net
  • Date: Tue, 24 May 2005 15:51:12 -0400

Re: [Aroid-l] Alocasia robusta & Colocasia gigantea----- Original
Message ----- 
From: Peter Matthews
To: Discussion of aroids
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 10:54 PM
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Alocasia robusta & Colocasia gigantea

Thanks for asking...

Colocasia esculenta (sat-imo in japanese) is the main species grown, usually
for the corms, but some cultivars are also used as stem vegetables.

Colocasia gigantea (hasu-imo in Japanese) is only grown as a stem vegetable,
with an almost completely non-acrid petiole (can be peeled and then sliced
thinly and eaten as a vinegared pickle).

A single clump of C. gigantea here and there is common in home gardens, but
there are also many commercial producers with entire fields of the plant, in
warmer southern areas.

Both species are summer crops here.



I've been growing C. gigantea here in the mountains of northeast Tennessee
(Zone 6a, Lat. 36.51 N) for about 17 years.  They're growing in the ground
with a fairly heavy winter leaf mulch and have proven quite hardy, more so
than C. esculenta.   With lots of sun, water and fertilizer, they can make
quite a specimen by the time frosty weather gets here, although not anywhere
near their potential.  I get fans of infloresences in good years that are
interesting but never any seeds.  When it rains heavily, the upward facing
leaves tip the water out make for an interesting visual.  I recall seeing a
photo of them turned over and used effectively as rain hats in Vietnam.
They make almost no tuber, so to overwinter them out of the ground, they
must be potted up and kept moist to keep them alive.

I think edibility must be somewhat variable with these plants.  The
Vietnamese lady that furnished mine said that they cook and eat the leaf
petioles and tender new leaves like spinach, never raw.  I've yet to try it
that way but a Chinese friend decided to try a bite of an uncooked stem one
time and one time only.  The calcium oxalate crystals set her mouth and
tongue on fire!   She was even afraid to try it cooked after that, although
cooking is supposed to neutralize that problem.

David Sizemore

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