days to maturity: 200
plant spacing: 1 plant every 2 feet
sunlight requirements: 6-14 hours, filtered sun
look out for: rot and nematodes
harvest notes: aggressive grower
Taro, also know as kalo, "potato of the tropics," or "elephant ears,” is an ancient aroid food crop grown throughout the tropics and subtropics. Believed to have originated in South East Asia, this wetland herbaceous perennial produces big heart shaped leaves and a stretchy corm. Although grown commercially in many areas of the Pacific Basin, it is mostly a backyard crop, usually planted in small plots near homes. Taro can grow in a wide range of well drained soil in high rainfall areas or saturated for prolonged periods. The most important food throughout the Hawaiian Islands, the mature root is boiled as a starchy vegetable and to make poi. The leaves are high in minerals and vitamins A, B, and C and prepared like mustard or turnip greens, called callaloo. Young leaves are also boiled or covered with coconut cream, wrapped in banana or breadfruit leaves and cooked on hot stones.
Photo Courtesy the Miami New Times of local chef Niven Patel and his taro leaf patch.