Alocasia macrorrhiza


BOTANICAL NAME:- Alocasia macrorrhiza.


SINHALA : Habarala, Kiri habarala, kiri ala 
TAMIL : Parum sembu
ENGLISH : Giant Taro  


A large herb; rootstock tuberous, creeping and ascending, 60-90 cm high, annually scarred;

LEAVES:- Simple, large, very stoutly and long petioled, 60-120 cm long, 15-45 cm broad, peltate, broadly sagittately ovate, margins sub-undulate, basal lobes rounded and incurred. Petioles; 60-120 cm long.

FLOWERS:- Male and female parts of the inflorescence distant, separated by neuters. (Period- During February).

FRUITS:- Berries 2 cm diameter, red when ripe (Jayaweera, 1981; Tindall, 1993).


Indigenous to India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia (Tindall, 1993). Grows in all tropical countries including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Philippine Islands. In Sri Lanka, it is a common herb in all village gardens.

EDIBLE PARTS: Tender leaves and tubers.

FOOD USE: The stem is peeled and used as a cooked vegetable and added to soups and stews. A very easily digested starch can be prepared from the stem. Leaves are eaten as a green vegetable. 


Moisture - 84 g, 
Energy - 61 kcal, 
Protein - 0.6 g, 
Fat - 0.3 g, 
Carbohydrate - 15 g, 
Calcium -30 mg, 
phosphorus - 50 mg, 
Iron - 1.0 mg, 
Thiamine - 0.05 meg, 
Vitamin C - 5 mg. (FAO, 1968).

The stems, leaves and petioles contain stinging crystals of calcium oxalate which are destroyed by boiling or roasting. Hence the starch in the stem can be used as a source of food. The acid juice of the leaves of this plant gives instant relief to stings of the giant nettle. The chopped up leaves and roots are used as an application on painful joints. The cut surface of the stem is smeared with lime and water applied for dog bites. The dried stems along with other ingredients are given for piles and chronic fevers (Jayaweera, 1981).


Fertile land with good water retention are preferable. A well distributed rainfall of 2000 mm per year is required elevations below 1000 m are generally suitable.


Area for planting - This is quite suited to high rainfall areas, and can be expected to do well in the low-country and mid-country wet zone. Some of the relatively short aged varieties can also be grown successfully in the dry zone, without irrigation. 

Planting season - It can be planted almost throughout the year except during the very dry months.

Planting material - They consist of either crowns, or tubers. Crowns have to be planted almost immediately after harvest. Small sized tubers could be planted fully. Large one should be cut into two or three pieces, each containing two or three eyes. It is usual to smear the cut surface with wood ash to prevent rotting.

Land preparation - The land should be worked to a depth of about 20-25 cm. The application of well rotted compost or cattle manure at this time gives beneficial results. Planting is usually done in individual planting holes. The tubers are buried 7.5 - 10 cm deep.

Spacing - 1.-1.5 m x 1-1.5 m.

Fertilizer - This responds well to manuring. Heavy application of well rotted cattle manure or compost, at planting, can double the yield of tubers. Preliminary weeding may be necessary till the plants grow up and shade the soil. 

Time to harvest - Depending on the variety, the crop may be lifted from three months onwards.

Harvest - The tubers are lifted carefully by digging the whole plant out, without injuring the tubers.


Uninjured tubers store relatively well