From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Xanthosoma roseum 'Elephant ear'
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Tribe: Caladieae
Genus: Xanthosoma
Range of the genus Xanthosoma
  • Acontias Schott
  • Cyrtospadix K.Koch

Xanthosoma is a genus of flowering plants in the arum family, Araceae. The genus is native to tropical America but widely cultivated and naturalized in other tropical regions.[2] Several are grown for their starchy corms, an important food staple of tropical regions, known variously as malanga, otoy, otoe, cocoyam (or new cocoyam), tannia, tannier, yautía, macabo, ocumo, macal, taioba, dasheen, quequisque, ʻape and (in Papua New Guinea) as Singapore taro (taro kongkong). Many other species, including especially Xanthosoma roseum, are used as ornamental plants; in popular horticultural literature these species may be known as ‘ape due to resemblance to the true Polynesian ʻape, Alocasia macrorrhizos, or as elephant ear from visual resemblance of the leaf to an elephant's ear. Sometimes the latter name is also applied to members in the closely related genera Caladium, Colocasia (taro), and Alocasia.

The leaves of most Xanthosoma species are 40–200 centimetres (16–79 inches) long, sagittate (arrowhead-shaped) or subdivided into three or as many as 18 segments. Unlike the leaves of Colocasia, those of Xanthosoma are usually not peltate- the upper v-notch extends into the point of attachment of the leaf petiole to the blade.


The inflorescence in Xanthosoma is composed of a spadix with pistillate flowers at the base, a belt of sterile flowers offered as a reward for pollinators in the middle and staminate flowers on the upper part. Prior to opening, the inflorescence is enclosed within a leaf-like spathe. When the inflorescence is ready to open, the upper part of the spathe opens and exposes the staminate area of the spadix; the basal area of the spathe remains closed, forming a spacious chamber (i.e., the spathe tube) that encloses the pistillate and sterile flowers (Garcia-Robledo et al. (2004, 2005a, 2005b)).

The inflorescences last for two nights and are protogynous in some, but not all species.[3] They change from the pistillate phase that attracts pollinators on the night it opens, to a staminate phase on the second night, when pollen is shed. When the inflorescence opens, it produces heat and releases a sweet scent attracting its pollinators, dynastine beetles (Cyclocephala spp.). Dynastines arrive covered with pollen from another inflorescence and remain in the spathe tube for 24 hours, pollinating the pistillate flowers as they feed on the sterile area of the spadix. On the second night, they come out of the tube and walk over the staminate flowers, getting covered with pollen, and then flying to a recently opened inflorescence nearby. (Garcia-Robledo et al. (2004, 2005a, 2005b)). Fruit maturation takes several months. Fruits start to develop within the shelter of the spathe tube. When the infructescence is mature, in some species, it arches back and downwards. In other species, it stays erect. Then, the tissue of the spathe tube rolls outwards, exhibiting the bright orange fruits and the velvety pink inner spathe surface.[4][5][6][3]



The following species are accepted:[2]

  1. Xanthosoma acutum E.G.Gonç. - French Guiana, Amapá State of Brazil
  2. Xanthosoma akkermansii (G.S.Bunting) Croat - Amazonas + Barinas States of Venezuela
  3. Xanthosoma aristeguietae (G.S.Bunting) Madison - Venezuela, northwestern Brazil
  4. Xanthosoma auriculatum Regel - northwestern Brazil
  5. Xanthosoma baguense Croat - northern Peru
  6. Xanthosoma bayo G.S.Bunting - Venezuela
  7. Xanthosoma belophyllum (Willd.) Kunth - Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas; naturalized in Dominican Republic
  8. Xanthosoma bilineatum Rusby - Colombia
  9. Xanthosoma bolivaranum G.S.Bunting - Venezuela
  10. Xanthosoma brasiliense (Desf.) Engl. – Tahitian spinach - Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Trinidad & Tobago; naturalized in southern Brazil
  11. Xanthosoma brevispathaceum Engl. - Peru
  12. Xanthosoma caladioides Grayum - Panama
  13. Xanthosoma caracu K.Koch & C.D.Bouché – yautia horqueta - Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic
  14. Xanthosoma caulotuberculatum G.S.Bunting - Venezuela
  15. Xanthosoma conspurcatum Schott - Venezuela, Suriname, French Guiana
  16. Xanthosoma contractum G.S.Bunting - Bolívar State of Venezuela
  17. Xanthosoma cordatum N.E.Br. - Guyana, French Guiana
  18. Xanthosoma cordifolium N.E.Br. - Guyana
  19. Xanthosoma cubense (Schott) Schott - Cuba
  20. Xanthosoma daguense Engl. - Colombia, Ecuador
  21. Xanthosoma dealbatum Grayum - Costa Rica
  22. Xanthosoma eggersii Engl. - Ecuador
  23. Xanthosoma exiguum G.S.Bunting - Amazonas State of Venezuela
  24. Xanthosoma flavomaculatum Engl. - Colombia
  25. Xanthosoma fractum Madison - Peru
  26. Xanthosoma granvillei Croat & Thomps. - French Guiana
  27. Xanthosoma guttatum Croat & D.C.Bay - Valle del Cauca in Colombia
  28. Xanthosoma hebetatum Croat & D.C.Bay - Valle del Cauca in Colombia
  29. Xanthosoma helleborifolium (Jacq.) Schott – belembe silvestre - from Costa Rica south to central Brazil; naturalized in West Indies
  30. Xanthosoma herrerae Croat & P.Huang - Colombia
  31. Xanthosoma hylaeae Engl. & K.Krause - Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, northwestern Brazil
  32. Xanthosoma latestigmatum Bogner & E.G.Gonç. - Venezuela
  33. Xanthosoma longilobum G.S.Bunting - Venezuela
  34. Xanthosoma lucens E.G.Gonç - Rondônia
  35. Xanthosoma mafaffoides G.S.Bunting - Amazonas State of Venezuela
  36. Xanthosoma mariae Bogner & E.G.Gonç. - Peru
  37. Xanthosoma maroae G.S.Bunting - Amazonas State of Venezuela
  38. Xanthosoma maximiliani Schott - eastern Brazil
  39. Xanthosoma mendozae Matuda - México State in central México
  40. Xanthosoma mexicanum Liebm. - Chiapas, Oaxaca, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela
  41. Xanthosoma narinoense Bogner & L.P.Hannon - Colombia
  42. Xanthosoma nitidum G.S.Bunting - Venezuela
  43. Xanthosoma obtusilobum Engl. - Mexico, probably extinct
  44. Xanthosoma orinocense G.S.Bunting - Amazonas State of Venezuela
  45. Xanthosoma paradoxum (Bogner & Mayo) Bogner - Colombia
  46. Xanthosoma pariense G.S.Bunting - Venezuela
  47. Xanthosoma peltatum G.S.Bunting - Venezuela
  48. Xanthosoma pentaphyllum (Schott) Engl. - Brazil
  49. Xanthosoma platylobum (Schott) Engl. - Brazil
  50. Xanthosoma plowmanii Bogner - Brazil
  51. Xanthosoma poeppigii Schott - Peru, Bolivia, northwestern Argentina
  52. Xanthosoma pottii E.G.Gonç. - Mato Grosso do Sul
  53. Xanthosoma puberulum Croat - Bolivia
  54. Xanthosoma pubescens Poepp. - Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, northwestern Brazil
  55. Xanthosoma pulchrum E.G.Gonç. - Mato Grosso
  56. Xanthosoma riedelianum (Schott) Schott - southeastern Brazil
  57. Xanthosoma riparium E.G.Gonç. - Goiás
  58. Xanthosoma robustum Schott – capote - Mexico, Central America; naturalized in Hawaii
  59. Xanthosoma sagittifolium (L.) Schott (Syn. Xanthosoma atrovirens K.Koch & C.D.Bouché, Xanthosoma violaceum Schott)- arrowleaf elephant ear, tiquizque, macal, nampi, malanga or American taro[7] - Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil; naturalized in West Indies, Africa, Bangladesh, Borneo, Malaysia, Christmas Island, Norfolk Island, some Pacific Islands, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Georgia,[8] Oaxaca[9]
  60. Xanthosoma saguasense G.S.Bunting - Venezuela
  61. Xanthosoma seideliae Croat - Bolivia
  62. Xanthosoma stenospathum Madison - Peru
  63. Xanthosoma striatipes (K.Koch & C.D.Bouché) Madison - Brazil, the Guianas, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay
  64. Xanthosoma striolatum Mart. ex Schott - French Guiana, northern Brazil
  65. Xanthosoma syngoniifolium Rusby - Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil
  66. Xanthosoma taioba E.G.Gonç. - Paraíba
  67. Xanthosoma tarapotense Engl. - Peru
  68. Xanthosoma trichophyllum K.Krause - Peru, Ecuador
  69. Xanthosoma trilobum G.S.Bunting - Amazonas State of Venezuela
  70. Xanthosoma ulei Engl. - northwestern Brazil
  71. Xanthosoma undipes (K.Koch) K.Koch – tall elephant's ear - widespread from Bolivia north to southern Mexico and West Indies
  72. Xanthosoma viviparum Madison - Peru, Ecuador
  73. Xanthosoma weeksii Madison - Ecuador
  74. Xanthosoma wendlandii (Schott) Schott (syn. Xanthosoma hoffmannii Schott, Xanthosoma pedatum Hemsl.) Oaxaca, Central America, Venezuela
  75. Xanthosoma yucatanense Engl. - Yucatán, Quintana Roo



The name is derived from the Greek words ξανθός (xanthos), meaning 'yellow', and σῶμα (soma), meaning 'body'. It refers to the stigma or yellow inner tissues.[10]


Top Yautía (Cocoyam) Producers
(in metric tons) [11]
Rank Country 2012 2013 2014
1  Cuba 153782 185922 269590
2  Venezuela 75132 84516 85607
3  El Salvador 43000 43000 41110
4  Peru 29200 30000 30960
5  Costa Rica 11692 23742 30000
6  Dominican Republic 32595 29104 28180
World 378952 423415 508079
Worldwide yautía yield

Domestication of Xanthosoma species (especially X. sagittifolium but also X. atrovirens, X. violaceum, X. maffaffa and others) is thought to have originated in northern lowland South America, then spread to the Antilles and Mesoamerica. Today, Xanthosoma is still grown in all those regions, but is especially popular in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where it is used in alcapurrias or boiled. It is grown in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Jamaica to make the popular callaloo dish. It is also grown in West Africa, now a major producer, where it can be used as a replacement for yams in a popular regional dish called fufu. Xanthosoma is also grown as a crop in the Philippines.

Traditionally, Xanthosoma has been a subsistence crop with excess sold at local markets, but in the United States, large numbers of Latin American immigrants have created a market for commercial production. In general, production has yet to meet demand in some areas. In Polynesia, Alocasia macrorrhizos (‘ape) was considered a famine food, used only in the event of failure of the much preferred taro (kalo) crop.[12] After having been introduced to Hawaii in the 1920s from South America, Xanthosoma has naturalized and has become more common than A. macrorrhizos, and has been given the same name, ʻape.

The typical Xanthosoma plant has a growing cycle of 9 to 11 months, during which time it produces a large stem called a corm, this surrounded by smaller edible cormels about the size of potatoes. These cormels (like the corm) are rich in starch. Their taste has been described as earthy and nutty, and they are a common ingredient in soups and stews. They may also be eaten grilled, fried, or puréed. The young, unfurled leaves of some varieties can be eaten as boiled leafy vegetables or used in soups and stews, such as the Caribbean callaloo.

Flour made from Xanthosoma species is hypoallergenic.[13]



  1. ^ "Genus: Xanthosoma Schott". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2003-07-09. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
  2. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ a b Valerio, C. E. (1988), "Notes on the phenology and pollination of Xanthosoma wendlandii (Araceae) in Costa Rica" (PDF), Rev. Biol. Trop., 36: 55–61
  4. ^ Garcia-Robledo, Carlos; et al. (2004), "Beetle pollination and fruit predation in Xanthosoma daguense (Araceae)", Journal of Tropical Ecology, 20 (4): 459–469, doi:10.1017/S0266467404001610, S2CID 85768260
  5. ^ Garcia-Robledo, Carlos; et al. (2005a), "Equal and opposite effects of floral offer and spatial distribution on fruit production and pre-dispersal seed predation in Xanthosoma daguense (Araceae)", Biotropica, 37 (3): 373–380, doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2005.00049.x, S2CID 86329238
  6. ^ Garcia-Robledo, Carlos; et al. (2005b), "Geographic Variation and Succession of Arthropod Communities in Inflorescences and Infructescences of Xanthosoma (Araceae)", Biotropica, 37 (4): 650–656, doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2005.00082.x, S2CID 45182954
  7. ^ Lim, T. K. (2015). "Xanthosoma sagittifolium". Edible Medicinal and non Medicinal Plants. pp. 498–509. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-9511-1_15. ISBN 978-94-017-9510-4.
  8. ^ Biota of North America Program, 2013 county distribution map
  9. ^ García-Mendoza, A. J. & J. Meave del Castillo. 2011. Divers. Florist. Oaxaca 1–351. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria
  10. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. Vol. IV R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2849. ISBN 978-0-8493-2678-3.
  11. ^ "Production of Yautia (Cocoyam) by countries". UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO). 2014. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  12. ^ Abbott, Isabella Aiona. (1992). Lā'au Hawai'i : traditional Hawaiian uses of plants. [Honolulu, Hawaii]: Bishop Museum Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-930897-62-5. OCLC 26509190.
  13. ^ Vaneker, K. The Pomtajer. Page 216 In: Friedland, S. R., Ed. Vegetables: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking 2008: Volume 26 of Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. Oxford Symposium, 2009.

External links[edit]