Colocasia esculenta

Wild taro, dasheen

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 1 Invasive

Species Overview

Origin: India, southeastern Asia

Wild taro was introduced into Florida in 1910 by U.S. Department of Agriculture as a substitute crop for potatoes. It has since become widespread in Florida along streams, marshy shores, canals and ditches.

Species Characteristics

  • Family: Araceae
  • Habit: perennial herb to 1.5 m (4 ft) tall, with thick shoots from a large corm; slender stolons also often produced, along with offshoot corms
  • Leaves: peltate (stalked from back of blade); leaf blades to 60 cm (24 in) long and 50 cm (20 in) wide, arrowhead shaped, with upper surface dark green and velvety; petioles large, succulent, often purplish near top
  • Flowers: Flowers tiny, densely crowded on upper part of fleshy stalk, with female flowers below and male flowers above. Flowering seldom occurs outside of the native range
  • Distribution in Florida: throughout the state

Wild taro is commonly confused with elephant ear (Xanthosoma sagittifolium). Both elephant ear and taro are herbaceous perennials with large leaves up to 6 feet in length. Taro can be distinguished from elephant ears by the attachment of the leaf from the petiole. In taro, the petiole attaches to the leaf several inches from the base of the ‘V’ of the leaf, while the petiole is attached directly at the base in elephant ears. The leaves are light green for elephant ear and darker green in color for taro. Both have arrow-shaped leaves with long petioles and wavy margins. Elephant ear plants can grow up to 9 feet in height, while taro is much shorter – rarely reaching 4 feet tall. Additionally, the leaves of elephant ears grow much larger than that of wild taro. Leaves are produced from corms which are underground bulblike structures. Rhizomes give rise to offshoots that extend from the corm.


Taro is widespread and can frequently be observed along the shorelines of many central Florida water bodies, as well as in swamps and along stream banks. The large leaves may shade and prevent regeneration of desired species. Vegetative growth leads to dense populations form extensive stands, which alter the vegetational structure and dynamics of riparian plant communities. Rhizome fragments are easily carried by streams and floods can dislodge bud-laden rhizomes from the banks.

Wild taro is not recommended by UF/IFASThe UF/IFAS Assessment lists wild taro as invasive/no use in all parts of Florida and FLEPPC lists it as a Category l invasive species due to its ability to invade and displace native plant communities.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

The first step in preventative control of taro is to limit planting and removal of existing plants within the landscape. Plant native or non-invasive alternatives such as golden canna (Canna flaccida), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), native species of arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.), giant swordfern (Nephrolepis biserrata) and scarlet hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus).


Dig out corms from the soil. Take care when cutting, as the leaves contain oxalic acid, which may cause irritation to exposed skin.


Dig out corms from the soil. Take care when cutting, as the leaves contain oxalic acid, which may cause irritation to exposed skin.


Wild taro has no known biological control agents.

  • Foliar: 2.0% Clearcast, 1.0% glyphosate product, 0.5% Renovate, 0.5% Weedar 64, or 1.5% Habitat.
    • Usually found in aquatic habitats, so only herbicides labeled for aquatic sites can be used. Large corms (underground storage structures) make control difficult. Repeat applications will be necessary.

Learn more about this species