Elephant Ear – Leaves Edible

Q: I have question about a plant I picked from a nursery recently. The name of the plant is BLACK MAGIC ELEPHANT’S EAR (Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ ). It is a tropical plant. On the information attached to the plant it says the roots are used as food in Hawaii. My question is whether the leaves are edible. I want to make sure before I use them to make an Indian dish from my homeland.

A: Cook away! The plant commonly called “Elephant Ear” has been cultivated for thousands of years. The root is pounded into an edible paste called poi and the leaves are used to wrap steamed meats and vegetables.

There are several common and ornamental varieties of elephant ear. The green-leafed form has been grown in the South for centuries. They need hot summer temperatures and plenty of water during dry weather. In our part of Georgia, the roots should be dug up in early October and kept from freezing indoors.

Be careful removing the leaves from an elephant ear plant: the sap contains calcium oxalate crystals that can deliver a mild sting or even a severe rash. Cooking the leaves before ingestion eliminates much of the irritation.

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Colocasia

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