Alocasia

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Alocasia
P Alom D9903.jpg
Alocasia macrorrhizos
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Tribe: Colocasieae
Genus: Alocasia
(Schott) G.Don
Alocasia distribution.svg
Range of the genus Alocasia.
Synonyms[1]

Alocasia is a genus of broad-leaved rhizomatous or tuberous perennials from the family Araceae. There are 79 species [2] native to tropical and subtropical Asia to Eastern Australia, and widely cultivated elsewhere.

Description[edit]

The large cordate or sagittate leaves grow to a length of 20 to 90 cm on long petioles. Their araceous flowers grow at the end of a short stalk, but are not conspicuous; often hidden behind the leaf petioles.

The stem (a corm) is edible, but contains raphid or raphide crystals of Calcium oxalate along with other irritants (possibly a protease)[3] that can numb and swell the tongue and pharynx resulting in difficult breathing, and sharp throat pain. The lower parts contain more of the poison. Prolonged boiling before serving or processing may reduce the risks but acidic fruit such as tamarind may dissolve them.

Cultivation[edit]

Alocasia are distinctly exotic and tropical plants that are increasingly becoming popular as houseplants.[4] The hybrid A. × amazonica has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[5] They are typically grown as pot plants, but a better way is to grow the plants permanently in the controlled conditions of a greenhouse. They do not do well in the dark and need good lighting if inside the house. They should be cared for as any other tropical plant with weekly cleaning of the leaves and frequent fine water misting without leaving the plants wet.

Unfortunately, they rarely survive cold winters, or the dryness of artificial heating, but an attempt to slowly acclimatize plants from the summer garden to the house can help.[6] Once inside the watering period must be reduced and the plants should be protected from spider mites or red spider attack. Alternatively, let younger plants die back to the corm from when the temperature reaches 19 degrees[clarification needed] and with some luck this could lead to a rebirth in spring.

Species[edit]

The following are the accepted species classified under Alocasia along with their common names (where available) and distribution ranges:

Giant taro or ape flower (Alocasia macrorrhizos).
A wild specimen of the kris plant (Alocasia sanderiana).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ "WCSP". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Archived from the original on 30 June 2010. Retrieved 2010. 
  3. ^ Bradbury, J. Howard; Nixon, Roger W. (1998). "The acridity of raphides from the edible aroids". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 76 (4): 608–616. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0010(199804)76:4<608::AID-JSFA996>3.0.CO;2-2. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  4. ^ Alocasia Amazonica (not a species), Alocasia x amazonica, Alocasia mortefontanensis André, Alocasia Poly, not 'Polly', Exotic Rainforest rare tropical plants
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - ''Alocasia × amazonica". Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Nature Assassin: Overwintering your Alocasia
  7. ^ Nguyen, V. D.; Croat, T. B.; Luu, H. T.; Lee, C. Y.; Lee, J.; De Kok, R. (2013). "Two new species of Alocasia (Araceae, Colocasieae) from Vietnam". Willdenowia - Annals of the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem 43 (2): 293. doi:10.3372/wi.43.43209.  edit