Little Elephants

Emerging from their winter rest in mid-June are the miniature elephant ears. These little-known plants make fascinating garden specimens (Zone 7b south), and great container specimens further north. All of these mature at around 1-1.5′ tall, when happy. They are slow spreaders via very short rhizomes. By far, the fastest grower of the bunch is Colocasia fallax, which has thrived near one of our streams. Below are some of our favorites.

Colocasia affinis ‘Jenningsii’ is native from India through Myanmar (Burma), and into Western China, where is grows in moist soils in part sun and light shade.

Colocasia affinis ‘Jenningsii’

Colocasia bicolor is an interesting species, first published in 2003. Some taxonomists consider it different from the above Colocasia affinis, while others consider it the same. This is our Northern Vietnam collection, Colocasia ‘La La La’, which we hope to finally share in 2025.

Colocasia bicolor ‘La La La’

Colocasia fallax, which is also native from India to China, is the earliest of the dwarf species to emerge, often sprouting for us in April. It is also the most winter hardy of any we’ve trialed.

Colocasia fallax

Colocasia heterochroma ‘Dark Shadows’ is another highly debated species. Published in 1993, some taxonomists claim it is nothing more than a form of Colocasia fallax. Our cultivar, Colocasia ‘Dark Shadows’ certainly isn’t a selection of Colocasia fallax, so obviously more DNA work is needed to further sort out who is who. In growth habit, it’s very similar to Colocasia affinis, and we feel it most likely is that species. The late Dr. Li Heng, who published this as a new species, has a long track record of publishing new species, but having shared a stage with her at an aroid conference, it was obvious to many of us that several of her species were nothing more than minor phenotypic variations of existing species, and that’s our guess what happened here.

Colocasia heterochroma ‘Dark Shadows’

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