Taro


Several small lo'i or pondfields in which taro (or kalo)
is being grown in Hawai'i
().

Taro (possibly a Maori word, it is kalo in Hawaiian) is a tropical plant (Colocasia esculenta in the Family Araceae) grown for its edible stem or corm and leaves. Flowers are also eaten. The word kalo refers to the corm. Taro is closely related to elephant ear and Caladium, plants commonly grown as ornamentals.

Taro is a traditional staple in many tropical areas of the world, and is the base for poi in Hawai'i. The plant is actually inedible if ingested raw because of raphids in the plant cells. Severe gastrointestinal distress can occur unless the plant is properly processed first.

Taro is grown in pondfields called lo'i (in Hawaiian). The picture shows several small lo'i in Maunawili Valley on O'ahu. The ditch on the left in the picture is called an 'auwai and supplies diverted stream water to the lo'i or pondfields. Cool flowing water yields the best crop. Some of this taro in the foreground has been harvested and the caretakers are preparing to replant the huli stacked at their feet. These are the top portion of the corm with a short piece of bladeless leafstem.


Taro is also used by some Taiwanese as an affectionate nickname for the Chinese mainlanders.


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