Taro, also called colocase of the ancients or Chinese cabbage, is a plant with decorative foliage but it is also a vegetable. It belongs to the araceae family. The taro is native to Asia and more specifically to Burma. Cultivated for centuries by the Egyptians and the Romans, this plant is considered by some as an ornamental plant while others see it as a vegetable rich in fibers. In France, it is rather cultivated as an ornamental plant while in the tropical zones one consumes its tubers but also its leaves.
There are about 1,000 varieties of taros around the world. Some varieties reach 1.80m like the colocasia antiquorum "" Black Beauty "". The xanthomosa violaceum offers edible tubers with pink flesh while the young petioles of the elephant's foot are eaten. Most offer large leaves, sometimes light green, sometimes metallic green or dark green.
The taro should be placed in a rich clay soil and in a sunny place. It is planted in the ground in April-May by burying the tuber about 30 cm. Like potatoes, it is imperative to butter the plants. It is also grown in pots, in soil rich in humus. Some varieties even appreciate being placed in a basin, without wetting the whole root ball.
Cultivation and maintenance of taro
It is essential to ensure regular watering as well as a supply of fertilizers except in a basin where fish live. Not very resistant, this plant needs to be mulched in winter. For a pot culture, it is possible to place them indoors during the winter.
It is possible to separate the stolon produced by the buds and place it in a soil rich in humus but also to separate the tubers from the mother plant. The cuttings by rejection consist, as for him, to take a part of the top of the corm and to transplant it quickly.
Harvest and storage of taro
Young shoots can be removed as needed for varieties with green or red petioles. The tubers are picked around 6 months after planting. For better conservation, it is advisable to peel and freeze them. Their taste recalls, depending on the variety, that of sweet potato or more spicy food. The leaves should be eaten quickly. However, be careful to dispose of the first cooking water, then cook it in coconut milk for example.
Virtues of taro
Chinese cabbage has a very important nutritional power. In addition, the tuber and leaves contain calcium, iron, the leaves are also rich in vitamins A, B and C.
Taro diseases and pests
Too wet, the tuber may suffer from rot. Pests that can attack your plants are red spiders, slugs and snails. To combat the former, slightly moist leaves should be kept, the red spiders being attracted by a dry atmosphere.