Unlike other invasive plants introduced for their ornamental quality, Wild Taro appeared as a potential crop substitute. The U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced it in hopes to develop a substitute for potatoes, which is a major agricultural crop of Florida. Since its introduction, Wild Taro quickly spread throughout wet areas around the state. You can easily see clusters of it in ditches, along creeks, and along roadways. It can easily be identified by its large, heart-shaped leaf. Although different plants, Taro is often confused with Elephant Ear. Taro is much smaller than Elephant Ear and its petiole attaches to the leaf differently.
Preventative controls of Wild Taro are similar to other invasive plants. To limit the spread, avoid transplanting, selling, buying, or trading this plant.
Removal of Wild Taro’s corm is essential to its control. Physically removing the corm from the soil is possible, but handlers need to be cautious. This invasive produces oxalic acid, which can cause skin irritation. Landscape alternatives include Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata), Arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.), or gingers (Zingiber spp.).
There are no known biological controls.
Foliar chemical applications are effective but may require multiple applications. Nonetheless, it is important to note that Wild Taro grows in wet landscapes, therefore, herbicides listed for aquatic sites are required.
The showy, yet highly invasive plant spreads aggressively across the landscape. Therefore, if you or someone you know is having issues managing this invasive or any other invasive plants within your landscapes, reach out to your county extension office for more information. The invasion of the landscape snatchers has begun, but we can stop it!
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