Thai Keladi or White Stem Taro (Colocasia esculenta)
The Keladi, or Thai Taro, is a captivating tropical marvel known for its grand heart-shaped leaves that can range from deep green to mesmerising bluish hues. Native to Southeast Asia, this plant isn’t just a feast for the eyes; it also hides starchy, edible tubers beneath the soil, which are treasured in various traditional dishes. But tread with caution! Raw taro parts contain toxins that demand thorough cooking before indulgence. Whether for its ornamental allure or culinary charm, the Keladi stands as a testament to nature’s versatility and abundance.
Note that this specific Taro plant is grown for its stems which makes popular Asian dish like curry, stir fry and soup. To cook it you need to first cube the stems, remove the thinner or outer skin of Taro stems and soak in water with a bit of salt overnight before boiling. Once this process is done then only it can be cooked again in your favourite dish.
Keladi or Thai Taro is a versatile plant that can be grown for its ornamental value, as well as for its edible stems. With the right care, they can be a wonderful addition to gardens and landscapes in tropical and subtropical regions.
*Raw taro parts contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause severe irritation to the mouth and throat. Always cook taro stems thoroughly before tasting.
1. Light: Taro plants prefer partial shade but can tolerate full sun if they’re kept well-watered. 2. Soil: They thrive in rich, well-draining soil. They can even be grown in ponds or containers with a few inches of standing water. 3. Water: Keladi loves water. The soil should always be moist. If the plant is grown in water, ensure that the crown of the plant is above the water level. 4. Temperature: These plants are tropical and should be protected from frost. If you’re in a cooler climate, consider growing them in pots so they can be moved indoors during the colder months. 5. Fertilizer: Feed them with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. 6. Pests and Diseases: Watch out for common pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. Fungal and bacterial diseases can also occur, so avoid overhead watering to keep the foliage dry. 7. Propagation: Taro can be propagated by division. You can divide the main tuber or offset tubers and plant them separately. 8. Harvesting: If you’re growing taro for its tubers, they are typically ready to harvest 6-12 months after planting. Wait until the leaves begin to yellow and die back before harvesting.