Amorphophallus paeoniifolius

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Elephant foot yam
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Genus: Amorphophallus
A. paeoniifolius
Binomial name
Amorphophallus paeoniifolius
  • Amorphophallus campanulatus (Roxb.) Blume ex Decne
  • Amorphophallus chatty Andrews
  • Amorphophallus decurrens (Blanco) Kunth.
  • Amorphophallus dixenii K.Larsen & S.S.Larsen
  • Amorphophallus dubius Blume
  • Amorphophallus gigantiflorus Hayata
  • Amorphophallus malaccensis Ridl.
  • Amorphophallus microappendiculatus Engl.
  • Amorphophallus rex Prain
  • Amorphophallus sativus Blume
  • Amorphophallus virosus N.E.Br.
  • Arum decurrens Blanco
  • Arum phalliferum Oken
  • Arum rumphii Oken
  • Conophallus sativus (Blume) Schott
  • Dracontium paeoniifolium Dennst.
  • Dracontium polyphyllum G.Forst.
  • Hydrosme gigantiflora (Hayata) S.S.Ying
  • Plesmonium nobile Schott
  • Pythion campanulatum Mart.

Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, the elephant foot yam[4] or whitespot giant arum,[5][6] is a tropical tuber crop grown primarily in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the tropical Pacific islands. Because of its production potential and popularity as a vegetable in various cuisines, it can be raised as a cash crop.


The elephant foot yam is used as food in Island Southeast Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia, South Asia, New Guinea, Oceania, and Madagascar. Its origin and center of domestication was formerly considered to be India, where it is most widely utilized as a food resource in recent times. But a genetic study in 2017 have shown that Indian populations of elephant foot yams have lower genetic diversity than those in Island Southeast Asia, therefore it is now believed that elephant foot yams originated from Island Southeast Asia and spread into westwards into Thailand and India, resulting in three independent domestication events. From Island Southeast Asia, they were also spread even further west into Madagascar, and eastwards to coastal New Guinea and Oceania by the Austronesian migrations. Though they may have spread south into Australia without human intervention.[7][8][9]



The plant blooms annually around the beginning of the raining season. The flower bud emerged from the corm as a purple shoot, and later blooms as a purple inflorescence. The pistillate (female) and staminate (male) flowers are on the same plant and are crowded in cylindrical masses as an inflorescence. The top part is responsible for secreting mucus that gives off putrid, pungent smell that is used to attract pollinating insects, the middle part of the inflorescence contains staminate, and the base of the inflorescence contains pistillate. The stigmas of the female flowers will be receptive on the first day of the bloom, when the pungent smell will draw pollinating insects inside, and the inflorescence will close, trapping them for a night to allow the pollen deposited on the insect to be transferred to the stigmas. Later in the second day, the female flower will no longer be receptive of pollens, the male flowers will start to bloom, and the inflorescence will open again. This allows the pollen to be deposited on the emerging insects to be pollinated on different flowers, while preventing the pollens from the same inflorescence to fertilize itself, preventing inbreeding.[citation needed]

After 24–36 hours after the first bloom of the inflorescence, the inflorescence's female flowers will start developing into berries bright red fruiting bodies, and other parts of the inflorescence will start wilting away. The berries are red when ripe and are not quite round, being subglobose or ovoid.[10]

While the flowers are in bloom they also produce heat. They die after five days.


As food[edit]

Elephant foot yam corm

In Bangladesh, it is called Ol Kochu. It is usually eaten as mashed and added rearly in curries. The leaves are also eaten and are used to make a special leaf based curry.[11]

In Bihar, it is used in oal curry, oal bharta or chokha, pickles and chutney.[12] Oal chutney is also called Barabar chutney as it has mango, ginger and oal in equal quantities, hence the name barabar (meaning "in equal amount").

In Chhattisgarh, it is called Zimmikanda. It is eaten as curry and is a delicacy among people of Chhattisgarh.

In Tripura, it is called Batema and prepared by making it's paste with sodium powder and water to remove it's raphide. After shaping the paste into bun-shaped, they are boiled with water containing sodium powder. Since lack of sodium powder cause throat to itch, they are cut into pieces and preferred with fresh pasted garlic, and Mosdeng. Also, the leaves and stems are eaten by chopping them into pieces and frying.

In Southern India, especially Kerala, it is known as Chena(ചേന), the tuber has been a part of people's diet for centuries. It is mainly served as steamed pieces (പുഴുക്ക്) along with traditional chutney made of green chilli, coconut oil, shallots and garlic although the curry preparation is also common as a side dish for rice. It has served as the main source of carbohydrates especially during the famine stricken days of the region in the past along with the more popular tapioca.

As medicine[edit]

The elephant-foot yam is widely used in Indian medicine and is recommended as a remedy in all three of the major Indian medicinal systems: Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani.[13] The corm is prescribed in those systems for a variety of ailments.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Romand-Monnier, F (2013). "Amorphophallus paeoniifolius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2013: e.T44393336A44531586. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-2.RLTS.T44393336A44531586.en. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Amorphophallus paeoniifolius". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  3. ^ Nicolson, Dan Henry (1977). "Nomina conservanda proposita - Amorphophallus (Proposal to change the typification of 723 Amorphophallus, nom. cons. (Araceae))". Taxon. 26: 337–338. doi:10.2307/1220579.
  4. ^ "Amorphophallus paeoniifolius". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Amorphophallus paeoniifolius". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (Dennst.) Nicolson - whitespot giant arum". Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture.
  7. ^ Santosa, Edi; Lian, Chun Lan; Sugiyama, Nobuo; Misra, Raj Shekhar; Boonkorkaew, Patchareeya; Thanomchit, Kanokwan; Chiang, Tzen-Yuh (28 June 2017). "Population structure of elephant foot yams (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (Dennst.) Nicolson) in Asia". PLOS ONE. 12 (6): e0180000. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180000.
  8. ^ McClatchey, Will C. (2012). "Wild food plants of Remote Oceania". Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 81 (4): 371–380. doi:10.5586/asbp.2012.034.
  9. ^ Horrocks, M; Nieuwoudt, MK; Kinaston, R; Buckley, H; Bedford, S (13 November 2013). "Microfossil and Fourier Transform InfraRed analyses of Lapita and post-Lapita human dental calculus from Vanuatu, Southwest Pacific". Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 44 (1): 17–33. doi:10.1080/03036758.2013.842177.
  10. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2012). CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology, Volume 1 A–B. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press (Taylor & Francis). p. 253. ISBN 978-1-4398-9442-2.
  11. ^ "Kochu! (You can say that again...)". The Daily Star. 2016-07-26. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  12. ^ Nedunchezhiyan, M.; Misra, R. S. (2008). "Amorphophallus tubers invaded by Cynodon dactylon". Aroideana. International Aroid Society. 31 (1): 129–133.
  13. ^ Khare, C. P. (2007). Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary. Berlin: Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-70637-5.