wild taro

Q:  Can you identify this plant for me?

Q:  I have some plant growing around my retention pond and it appears to be getting out of control.  I was thinking it was some type of elephant ear.  Can you identify it for me?

A:  Thank you for bringing in a sample.  However, without realizing it, this plant is on the invasive list which means you need a permit to pull it up and transport it to me.  It really should have been double bagged.  When I dispose of it, I will have to double bag it to ensure it does not escape to places we do not want it.

The plant is called Wild Taro, Colocasia esculenta. Taro can be distinguished from elephant ears by the attachment of the leaf from the petiole. In taro, the petiole attaches to the leaf several inches from the base of the ‘V’ of the leaf, while the petiole is attached directly at the base in elephant ears. The leaves are light green for elephant ear and darker green in color for taro. Both have arrow-shaped leaves with long petioles and wavy margins. Elephant ear plants can grow up to 9 feet in height, while taro is much shorter – rarely reaching 4 feet tall. Leaves are produced from corms which are underground bulblike structures. Rhizomes give rise to offshoots that extend from the corm. Mechanical control would mean digging out corms from the soil. Take care when cutting, as the leaves contain oxalic acid, which may cause irritation to exposed skin. Chemicals with known control are limited. Repeated applications of glyphosate (2% solution) with a surfactant (something to help the chemical stick to the plant) may be effective, especially if coupled with other management strategies.