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Elephant Ear

Elephant Ear

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Published by Dan Bennett

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Published by: Dan Bennett on Jan 10, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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BioStudies Exotic Species Identification Guide
Colocasia esculenta
Family: AraceaeRobert G. Howells – BioStudies
160 Bearskin Trail,Kerrville, Texas 78028biostudies@hctc.netMay 2009
Images and materials herein are notavailable for reuse or other applicationswithout written permission of the author.
Common elephantear (
Colocasia esculenta
) from Southeast Asia andIndonesia is both a widely recognized home and garden plant and isalso grown as taro for human consumption. It is readily availablefrom an array of sources around the world. It has been present inTexas for at least 100 years. Unfortunately it has escaped cultivationin Texas and elsewhere and created major ecological problems.Common elephantear can displace native plants and animals,including cattail and reed beds. In the San Marcos River (below) itwas a contributing element in the extinction of San Marcos gambusia(
Gambusia georgei
), a small fish previously found nowhere else.COMMERCIAL IMPORTANCE:Vast numbers of common elephantear bulbs are sold annually by manytypes of commercial plant dealers. In Florida, Hawaii, and elsewhere in thetropics the species is cultivated for human consumption. Other relatedspecies are sold horticulturally, but in lesser numbers.LEGAL RESTRICTIONS:Because common elephantear is already widely established in Texas, legalrestrictions would have little functional ecological impacts and wouldnegatively impact commercial dealers, as well as home owners alreadycultivating it. Educational programs to caution about the dangers this plantposes are far more likely to produce useful results in reducingenvironmental damage. In Texas, the Texas Fish Farming Act (SB 1507 of 1989) makes it illegal to release any aquatic plant, fish, or shellfish, exceptnative bait fishes, into state waters without a permit. Elephantears plantedin or escaped into local waters could be considered a violation.Horticulturalforms sold as
; most arelikely too sensitiveto develop largeferal populationsin Texas.

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