Colocasia esculenta


BOTANICAL NAME:- Colocasia esculenta.
Syn. C. antiquorum.


SINHALA : Gahala, Kandala, Tadala, Dehiala
TAMIL : Shamakkilangu, Shemakkalengu
ENGLISH : Taro, cocoyam.


A large herb with no stem above ground, but the base slightly swollen, arising from a tuberous rhizome, giving off sheathed, bulbiferous suckers.

LEAVES:- Simple, large, 15-48 cm long, ovate-cordate or heisted, dark ashy-green, bifid halfway from the base to the insertion of petiole, it is 90-120 cm long.

FLOWERS:- Male flowers densely packed,anthers cubical with immersed cells opening by terminal slits, female flowers crowded, globose, style very short (Jayaweera, 1981).

FRUITS:- Berries oblong.


A native of South East Asia. From India, it was taken to Egypt 2000 years ago, from where it was introduced to Europe (Tindall, 1993; Querol, 1993.). Spaniards introduced it to the new world. Cultivated throughout the tropics including India and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka it is grown in most village gardens for it is tuberous suckers which are eaten.

EDIBLE PARTS : Tender leaves and tubers.
FOOD USE: Tubers are boiled and eaten and it is used to prepare curries. Leaves are eaten as a green vegetable.



Moisture -73 g, 
Energy - 102 kcal, 
Protein - 1.8 g, 
Fat - 0.1 g, 
Carbohydrate 23 g, 
Calcium - 51 mg, 
Phosphorus - 88 mg, 
Iron - 1.2 mg. 
thiamin - 0.1 mg, 
Riboflavin 0.03 mg, 
Niacin - 0.8 mg, 
Vitamin C - 8 mg (FAO, 1968).


Moisture - 93 g, 
Energy - 24 kcal, 
Proteins - 0.5 g, 
Fats - 0.2 g, 
Carbohydrates - 6 g, 
Calcium - 49 mg, 
Phosphorous - 25 mg, 
Iron - 0.9 mg, 
Carotene - 180 meg, 
Thiamine - 0.02 mg, 
Riboflavin - 0.04 mg, 
Niacin 0.4 mg, 
Vitamin C -13 mg (FAO, 1972).

The corms have a high content of starch and protein. The colocasia starch contains amylase and the mucilage contains D-galactose, L-arabinose and uranic acid. The whole plant is a source of vitamin B. Besides being a starchy food, the tubers of this plant are laxative, diuretic, lactagogue and styptic. The pressed juice of petioles is used to arrest arterial hemorrhage. It is also used for earache and otorrhoea and also as an external stimulant and rubefacient, antidote for stings of wasps and insect. The ash of tuber mixed with honey is applied for aphthae in the mouth (Jayaweera, 1981) 

OTHER USES : Leaves are used as wrapping materials.


A fertile soil with water retention capacity is ideal. Good drainage is required. A temperature of 21-27°C and well distributed rainfall of 1000-1500 mm is good for taro. Mostly production occurs at altitudes below 1000 m.


Areas for cultivation - Low-country and mid country wet zone

Planting season - Almost throughout the year except during the very dry months.

Land preparation - The land should be worked to a depth of 20-25 cm.

Planting material - It consists of either the crowns, or tubers

Planting and space- Planting is usually done in individual planting holes. The tubers $ are buried 7.5 - 10 cm deep. 

Fertilizer - Respond well to manuring. Heavy application of cattle manure for compost, at planting, can double the yield of tubers.

Time to harvest- Depending on the variety, the crop may be lifted from 3 months onwards.

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

Yields - 15-20 t/ha


The storage behaviour of different forms of Taro is very viable. Tubers must be cleaned properly before storage; corms can be stored up to four months in shaded pits.