Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website

Alocasia macrorrhizos


Alocasia macrorrhizos (L.) G.Don

Family Name: Araceae
Common Name: Giant Taro, Greater Alocasia, Birah Negeri, Elephant's Ear

Giant Taro is used in landscaping for its large, heart-shaped leaves which resemble elephant ears.


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Open
Maximum Height 3.7 m to 4.6 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 1.8 m to 2.4 m


Native Distribution Central Malesia to Queensland
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Agricultural Land, Secondary Rainforest, Riverine, Disturbed Area / Open Ground)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Naturalised))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Perennial herb up to 2-4 m tall (but sometimes reaching 5 m). 
Foliage Arranged in rosettes, ascending; leaf blades are flattened, pointing upwards, measures 25 - 50 cm by 20 - 35 cm, green in colour, slightly glossy, arrow-shaped, apex acute, base hastate, margin wavy, petiole measuring 60 - 100 cm long.
Stems Acaulescent, has a short corm, produces sap and has an elongated caudex as it grows. 
Flowers Inflorescences, enfolded by bracts; peduncles are 20 - 45 cm long, spathe white - yellowish green with 15 - 35 cm long, lower part folds into a green tube; spadix 11 - 32 cm long, pistil 3 -4 cm long and 1.5 cm thick.
Fruit Fleshy berry, globose or ovoid in shape, turns red when matures.
Cultivation This species grows best in bright light with light shade and moist, but well-drained loamy soil. However, it can tolerate shade to full sun and sandy to clayey soils.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Fruit & Vegetable): All parts of the plant contain toxic calcium oxalate. In India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and other parts of southeastern Asia, the corm (underground storage organ) and stem are carefully cooked in multiple rounds to thoroughly breakdown the oxalates before eating it as a vegetable.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Pond / Lake / River
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden
Usage Hazard - Cons Toxic Upon Ingestion, Irritant - Contact Allergy
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Requires prolonged preparation and boiling to breakdown toxic calcium oxalate crystals which occur throughout the plant. The crystals may also irritate the skin upon contact.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Ant, Beetle, Fly, Thrip, Wasp))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Potential Problems In wet, poorly drained soil, it is prone to root rot.
Propagation Method Seed, Storage Organ (Corm, Tuberous Stem), Sucker


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Modification Storage Organ
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Rosulate / Rosette
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Sagittate)
Foliar Margin Entire - Wavy / Undulate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Hastate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Monocot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Inflorescence Type Spathe & Spadix

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Red
Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown

Image Repository



Master ID 340
Species ID 1636
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 23 September 2023.