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Amorphophallus paeoniifolius


Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (Dennst.) Nicolson

Family Name: Araceae
Synonyms: Plesmonium nobile, Amorphophallus giganteus, Dracontium paeoniifolium, Amorphophallus blumei, Arum campanulatum, Amorphophallus campanulatus
Common Name: Elephant Foot Yam, Elephant Yam, Telingo Potato, Sweet Yam, Corpse Flower, 巨花蒟蒻


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

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 Umbrella
Maximum Height 2 m to 2.5 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 3 m


Native Distribution Indian sub-continent, China, Taiwan, Indochina, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Northern Australia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland, Disturbed Area / Open Ground)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Deciduous herbaceous aroid shrub, up to 2.5m tall, with no apparent stem above ground. Solitary stem-like leaf stalk is fleshy, green and speckled with attractive paler green spots or blotches. Stalk arises from undeground tuber to reach 1.5 - 2.0m above ground surface and holds up a single leaf like an umbrella, thus making the plant resemble a miniature tree.
Foliage Leaf blade divided into hundreds of small leaflets, with whole cluster reaching 1.5 -3.0m across. Leaflets 3-lobed, each lobe divided into pinnatisect segments. Several leaves may be produced from accessory tubers. Leaves die down after blooming, and regrow from tuber during next season.
Flowers Held on a single spadix crowned with large bulbous knob, and encircled by a taller, funnel-shaped, velvet-like spathe. Spathe dark brown to maroon on inside, pale green with white spots on exterior, with glossy wrinked margins. Whole inflorescence reaches 40-50cm tall by 30-40cm across. Female flowers found on lower part of spadix, with male flowers towards top and a transitional zone in between. Inflorescence emits foul decaying odour which attracts pollinator carrion flies and beetles, and fades after flowers are pollinated. Fruits are cylindrical berries maturing from green to bright red, and attracts birds and squirrels.
Others - Plant Morphology Storage Organ: Underground tuber squatly hemispherical, up to 30cm in diameter and 25kg in weight, dark brown with a covering of short rough hairs. Offsets may be borne around main tuber.
Cultivation Prefers deep, moist but well-drained, fertile soils with lots of organic matter. Avoid planting in waterlogged clayey soils, which hinder tuber formation and promote rotting. Tubers prone to being attacked by soil nematodes. Propagate by tubers, which should be dusted with fungicide before being buried in ground or large deep pot. After foliage dies down completely, tuber can be harvested by lifting carefully from soil. Avoid injuring tubers which may result in rotting. Also avoid direct skin contact with any damaged plant surface as sap is known to be an irritant.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Amorphophallus' means deformed phallus, an allusion to the shape of the inflorescence and tubers. Species epithet 'paeoniifolius' means having leaves like Peony (Paeonia), and is named after ancient Greek physician Paeon, who was supposed to be the first to use plants medicinally.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Leaves
Food (Herb or Spice) (Fruit or Vegetable)
Others: Food: Tubers edible, often found in Indian markets, and often used in curries and stews in several Asian countries, especially Indonesia. Leaves and leaf stalks also cooked and eaten as vegetable. (Note: All plant parts used for food are acrid raw, and should be thoroughly cooked to break down the irritant calcium oxalate crystals, which would otherwise cause stinging and burning.) Medicinal: Dried tubers used medicinally to relieve piles, digestive problems and dysentery, while fresh roots are used as expectorant. People with rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should exercise caution when consuming the tubers.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage, Fragrant (Flowers) (Day)
Landscape Uses Container Planting, General, Focal Plant
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden
SGMP Treatment
Usage Hazard - Cons Irritant - Sap, Toxic Upon Ingestion
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Raw or improperly cooked plant parts contain irritant calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause burning and stinging sensations on skin and mucuous membranes.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Carrion Insects (Carrion Fly, Carrion Beetle))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Seed, Storage Organ
Propagation Method Remarks Tubers


Foliage Retention Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny, Raised / Sunken Veins
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire - Wavy / Undulate
Foliar Apex - Tip Cuspidate
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Monocot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Acaulescent
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)
Specialised Storage Organ(s) Underground (Stem Tuber)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) Brown, Cream / Off-White, Red
Inflorescence Type Spathe & Spadix
Flower Lifespan on Plant Several Days
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Berry

Image Repository



Master ID 363
Species ID 1659
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: 13 March 2024.