Xanthosoma sagittifolium

Elephant ear

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 2 Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: The native distribution is unclear, but it is suggested that it is native to northern South America including Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The common name was given in reference to its large, elephant ear-like leaves. This species can form mature plants from corms within 14-20 weeks. Once established, mature plants can produce large amount of foliage in the first 6-9 months and may also produce up to 10 or more corms within 10 months. It has been intentionally introduced in many regions to be used as a food crop and fodder and is now listed as invasive in Florida, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, the Galápagos Islands, Micronesia, and French Polynesia.

Species Characteristics

Family: Araceae

Habit: herbaceous perennial growing up to 9 feet.

Leaves: light green, arrow shaped, with long petioles and wavy margins - petiole is attached directly at the base of leaf. Up to 6 ft. in length.

Corms/Roots: Leaves are produced from corms which are underground bulblike structures. Rhizomes give rise to offshoots that extend from the corm.

Distribution in Florida: throughout the peninsula.


Spreads via rhizome and fragmentation. Thrives in moist soils and readily invades swamps and stream banks. Forming dense colonies, it crowds and shades out native plants. The leaves contain oxalic acid, which can cause irritation and allergic reaction to skin.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Do not plant.


Replace in the landscape with native plants. Dig corms fully out of soil.


None known.


More research needed. Repeated applications of glyphosate (2% solution) with a surfactant may be effective, especially if coupled with other management strategies. Many retreatments will likely be necessary. Consult your local UF IFAS Extension for further assistance with management recommendations

Learn more about this species

UF IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas

Atlas of Florida Plants


USDA Plant Database

Invasive Species Compendium

View records and images from University of Florida Herbarium