Colocasia Esculenta

Topics: Araceae, Taro, Plant morphology Pages: 6 (2111 words) Published: February 14, 2015
Viduya, Michelle-Janelle M.2Bio7

Family Araceae
Genus: Colocasia
Species: esculenta

Colocasia esculenta or also known as taro or gabi was first described by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753 as two separate species- Arum colocasia and Arum esculentum. Herinrich Wilhelm Schott who is one of the most important plant taxonomists of the 19th Century dedicated a large part of his life to the Araceae family. In 1832, he reclassified Arum colocasia as Colocasia antiquorum and Arum esculentum as Colocasia esculentum. The nomenclature changed again in 1939, this time to Colocasia esculenta.  Albert Hill, in his paper ‘Nomenclature of the Taro and its Varieties,’ chose this name because it contains the two epithets-Colocasia and Esculenta.

Colocasia esculenta is a long-stalked herbaceous plant with individual shoots that may reach a height of 30 to 150 centimeters but may vary depending on the climate and cultivation factors. Rootstock is tuberous, up to 10 centimeters in diameter. The morphology of Aroideae, which involves C. esculenta, includes the spadix and spathe inflorescence which is present in all members of this subfamily. The species of Colocasia are monoecious wherein the female flowers are situated at the base of the spadix and the male flowers above.  A spadix is a specialised form of spike inflorescence where small, sessile, individual flowers are tightly packed onto a fleshy core.  The spathe which is a large bract partially enclosing the spadix surrounds the latter and the space formed between these two structures serves as a resting place and shelter for insect pollinators.

Another characteristic that can be seen in Aroids, particularly in C. esculenta is protogyny.  This process involves the female flowers becoming fertile and receptive before the male flowers to help ensure successful cross pollination.

The leaves are 20 to 50 centimeters, broad, long-petioled, ovate and are in groups of two or three. The shape is peltate in almost all species. Leaves are somewhat glaucous with entire margins and with a broad, triangular, basal sinus extending one-third or halfway to the insertion of the petiole, which have broad and rounded basal lobes. It has reticulate, sometimes prominent venation. The color may vary from pale green to deep purple with the laminae and petioles not necessarily exhibiting the same color. Petioles are green or purplish, 0.2 to 1 meter long. Peduncles are usually solitary.

The fruit of C. esculenta is a berry which is usually green in color but may be orange or purple.   The number of seeds per fruit varies with environmental and pollination factors but can be over 50.

The corms are the economically important part of the plant and these also show considerable variation due to growing conditions. Each corm consists of three parts: the skin, cortex, and core. The cortex and the core consist of parenchyma tissue with fibers within the core.  The skin may be smooth or fibrous and the root system is superficial and fibrous.

Colocasia esculenta is cultivated pantropically. It is generally cultivated in soil, nearby swamps, or water throughout the Philippines but is not a native of the Archipelago.

Reference: Constituents
- Plant has yielded flavonoids, ß-sitosterol, and steroids. - An ethanol extract showed alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, and tannins as major constituents.  - Good source of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. 

- Young leaves are rich in vitamin C, roots are rich in starch.  - Tubers yield amino acids.
- Corms yield anthocyanins perlargonidin, 3-glucoside, cyaniding 3-rhamnoside and cyaniding 3-glucoside. 

- Leaves and petioles are excellent to taste, also rich in minerals. - Leaf juice considered styptic, stimulant, rubifacient.
- Juice of corm is considered laxative, demulcent and anodyne. - Tubers are digestive, laxative, diuretic, lactagogue, and styptic. -...
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