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Health Services > Queensland Poisons Information Centre

Plants and Mushrooms


Taro plant Taro plants
Category 2 toxicity icon

 Common name   Taro
 Botanical name   Colocasia species (most common species Colcasia esculenta)
 Other common names   dasheen; elephant ears
Family   Araceae
 General description   Large ornamentals grown for their huge heart-shaped leaves. The roots, when cooked, are an important food source in the Pacific region. Except for the leaves, the plants are similar in appearance to cunjevoi (Alocasia brisbanensis and Alocasia  macrorrhizos ).
Flowers   The flowers are a yellow coloured spathe or sheath about 15-21cm long, which is pointed at the tip and open along one side. The central column is crowded with small yellow florets.
Leaves   The leaves are large, heart-shaped with leaf stalks attached to the underside of the leaf, and not in the notch of the lobed base.
 Fruit/Berries   The fruit are green berries 3-5mm long, ellipsoid shaped and clustered along the spike.
Other   Clear sap.
Symptoms   If any part of this plant is chewed or eaten raw, it can cause immediate burning pain and swelling of the lips, mouth and tongue. Swelling may cause copious salivation and difficulty in breathing, swallowing or speaking. Intense gastric irritation may occur if swallowed.
Toxicity category   2
Warning   Seek urgent medical attention if lips or tongue become swollen or if there is difficulty breathing or swallowing.

Last Updated: 24 August 2010
Last Reviewed: 18 August 2009