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Publication #FPS 33

Alocasia spp. Elephant's Ear1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

The Alocasia genus contians a variety of showy, large leaved, tropical plants, some with colorful leaves (Figure 1). There is a wide variety of leaf sizes, color, and variegation among species. Elephant's ear gives a bold tropical effect to the landscape with its unusually large, shield-like, fleshy green leaves. They perform well as accent plants but some selections grow very large. For this reason, only one or two of these large leaved types are needed in most residential landscapes. Of course more can be used if the smaller selections are planted. The smaller-leaf types can be planted in mass as a ground cover for a rich, tropical effect, or they can be used to edge or border a walk or patio. Most are well adapted for container gardening.

Figure 1. 

Elephant's Ear.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Alocasia spp.
Pronunciation: al-lo-KAY-zee-uh species
Common name(s): elephant's ear
Family: Araceaea
Plant type: perennial; herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 8B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: border; container or above-ground planter; ground cover; naturalizing; accent
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


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Description

Growth rate: fast
Height: 2 to 10 feet
Spread: 1 to 10 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: open
Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: most emerge from the soil, usually without a stem
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: lobed; undulate
Leaf shape: saggitate (arrow)
Leaf venation: brachidodrome; pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 8 to 12 inches; 12 to 18 inches; 18 to 36 inches
Leaf color: variegated
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Foliage of Elephant's Ear.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Flower

Flower color: green
Flower characteristic: summer flowering; spring flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: unknown
Fruit length: unknown
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: usually with one stem/trunk
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: extended flooding; acidic; acidic; clay; sand; loam
Soil salt tolerance: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: sprouts from roots or lower trunk
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: aggressive, spreading plant
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Performing best in rich, moisture-retentive soil in full sun or shade, elephant's ear will require little attention once established. Many selections grow well in soggy soil and some will invade these areas forming dense thickets. The tender leaves are subject to wind-damage but do not have any major pest problems. Freezing temperatures kill the foliage, but in USDA hardiness zone 8b and south the plant grows from the base when warm weather resumes.

Pests and Diseases

There are no major pest problems.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS 33, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.