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TARO GROWING INFORMATION
© Frances and Jeff Michaels
BOTANICAL NAME: Colocasia esculenta
Taro, cultivars 'Bun Long' syn. Purple Spot Taro; and 'Chinese'; Dasheen
Taro is grown as a root crop throughout the humid tropics and is one of the most important food staples in the Pacific.
It needs a long, frost-free growing season and plenty of water. Taro has large, light green, heart-shaped leaves, fleshy
stems and grows up to 1.5 m in height. Taro is suitable for both wetland and dryland culture. It will grow well in partial
shade, making it an excellent understorey plant. Flowers are infrequent and it rarely sets seed.
The cultivar 'Bun-long'
is an excellent eating taro with a creamy white, dense, starchy
flesh with purple flecks, it grows well in tropical zones. The leaves are green with a purplish centre spot, the stems
become reddish as they mature.
cultivar suits areas from northern NSW to south-east Qld.
Recommended planting time:
Any time of year in frost-free areas, in spring in cold areas.
Best growth occurs at 25-35°C.
Plant the tuber a few centimetres below the soil surface.
60-90 cm apart with 1.8 m between rows.
Well-drained soil enriched with plenty of organic matter; pH 5.5 - 7.
Taro is propagated in two ways:
1. by offshoots from the mother corm. Offshoots are separated from the main plant when they are at
least 15 cm in height.
2. by chopping the dark top section of the taro tuber into small pieces, leave for a day to allow
surfaces to dry and replant.
Taro needs consistent irrigation and a well-drained rich soil with plenty of organic matter. Fertilise two or three times
during the growing season; potash is particularly important.
The crop matures in 9-12 months, when the leaves begin to yellow and die down and there is a slight lifting of the tubers.
Lift the tubers as you would sweet potatoes. Taro does not store for longer than a month, so leave tubers in the soil until
Taro tubers are peeled and then baked, steamed, boiled or mashed. In Hawaii, it is sliced and fried into taro chips. Taro
starch grains are extremely small and easily digested. Due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals which can irritate
the mouth, it cannot be eaten raw. In Polynesia, poi is made from fermented ground taro; it is grey to mauve in colour,
sour but nourishing and said to be good for the digestion. Young leaves can also be eaten well-cooked.
1 medium sized taro (about 500g)
1 tbsp milk (or coconut milk)
1 egg yolk
Peel the taro, boil and mash it; mix in the milk, egg yolk, salt and pepper, and shape into flat cakes. Roll these in
flour and fry in oil. Makes 12 small cakes.
2 medium sized taro (about 1kg)
milk of one coconut
salt and pepper
2 birdseye chillies
50g grated cheese
Peel the taro and cut into thin rounds. Grease a wide casserole dish with the butter and place the sliced taro in it.
Add the salt, pepper, chopped chillies and pour the coconut milk over the top. Cover the dish and bake at 175 C for
about 1½ hours. Take out, remove lid, sprinkle with cheese and bake until the cheese is golden brown.
is a type of Taro used for its leaves and stems.