Alocasia Elephant Ear- Tropical Superstar with Large Leaves

Alocasia Elephant Ear is a diverse genus of plants from the Araceae family that contains medium-sized to massive herbs having underground rhizomes and large heart-shaped leaves. There are 97 described species of Alocasias, from robust to smaller species, found exclusively in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and Eastern Australia. These plants often grow best under the canopy of moist or primeval forests.

Alocasia Elephant Ear-tropical superstar with large leaves, is an evergreen plant grown exclusively as houseplants in ordinary environmental conditions. You can also grow these plants in greenhouses or outdoor atriums protected from wind and harsh sunlight. When young, the Alocasias grow directly from an underground rhizome, which becomes massively large with time. The plant may bend to a side due to its weight when it reaches a certain size. Therefore, if you want your Alocasia to remain straight, provide it with bright indirect light so that the plant should not bend towards the light.

Scientific Classification of Alocasias

Botanical Name: Alocasia spp.

Common Name: Alocasia Elephant Ear, Alocasia African Mask

Family: Araceae

Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial Plant

Hardiness Zones: 10-12 (USDA)

Sun Exposure: Bright Indirect Light, Outdoor Shade

Soil Type: Loose, Well-Draining Potting Soil

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic Ranging from 5.5-6.5

Height: 2-9 feet

Bloom Time: Spring and Summer

Native Area: Tropical Regions of Asia and Eastern Australia

Flower Color: Light Yellow

General Description of Alocasia African Masks

Appearance or Colors and Shapes

Alocasias are known for their distinctive foliage producing broad heart-shaped or arrowhead-shaped, textured leaves that have flat or wavy edges and boast prominent veining that is often cream-colored. The veining pattern provides a stark contrast from the deep green color of the leaf.

These plants look airy and elegant due to their tall, smooth stems that grow from a tuber. The stems can be plain but contain tiger stripes; its leaf is equally remarkable.

Alocasia species have leaves that resemble African Masks, one with crinkled leaf edges, and the other is called the skeleton plant due to its marked leaf veins. These houseplants produce flowers in a spike that is not particularly impressive and light yellow. The decorative value of these plants is due to their stunning exotic foliage.

Origin

Alocasia is a member of the Arum family that grows in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and Eastern Australia. The plant is commonly found in Borneo and can grow up to meters tall. 97 described species of this genus have been cultivated around the Equator as a foodstuff for 28000 years. Many hybrid decorative varieties of these plants have been produced from the original versions. Alocasias are not edible because they are toxic due to calcium oxalate accumulation in their body parts, but they are very beautiful and are grown as houseplants. These plants conquered living rooms in the 9150s due to their great vintage vibes.

Symbolism

Alocasia Elephant Ear is “the tree that grows up to the heavens” and is present in all Western and Eastern versions of the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk. It thereby is the symbol of seizing opportunities when they arise, even if those opportunities are risky.

Distribution

Alocasia is a stunning plant native to tropical rainforests of Asia, Eastern Australia, Andaman Is, Assam, Bangladesh, Bismarck, Archipelago, Borneo, Cambodia, China, East Himalaya, Hainan, India, Japan, Jawa, Malaysia, Myanmar, New South Wales, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, West Himalaya, and many others.

The plant has been introduced to regions like Ascension, Brazil, Caroline Is, Chicago, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Maldives, Marquesas, New Zealand, Venezuela, and many others.

Ecology

Alocasia plants like humid climates of tropical and subtropical regions of rainforests. These plants grow predominantly in primary and secondary forests, early regrowth points, open swamps, on the forest floor, leaf litter, and sometimes on the humus deposited on rocks. With some exceptions, Alocasias are generally found in the lowlands, in ever-wet conditions, and in deep shady areas.

Varieties of Alocasia Elephant Ears

Alocasia Elephant Ear is a tropical superstar with large leaves and 97 varieties. It means there is a pool full of Alocasia varieties, and you must choose the best to plant and groom in your home garden. The interesting thing about Alocasia varieties is that each variety is just as beautiful as the next.

Below are some of the beautiful varieties of the Alocasia plants.

Alocasia Baginda

Common Name: Dragon Scale Alocasia

Distribution: Tropical Forests of Asia

Alocasia Amazonica

Common Name: Ivory Coast Alocasia

Distribution: Asia and Eastern Australia Forests

Alocasia cucullata

Common Name: Hooded Dwarf Alocasia or Buddha’s Palm

Distribution: Native to Thailand, now grown indoors

Alocasia Azlanii

Common name: Red Mambo

Distribution: Tropical Forests of Borneo

Alocasia cuprea

Common Name: Red Secret

Distribution: Asia and Eastern Australia Forests

Alocasia Calindora

Common Name: Pink Dragon

Distribution: Southern Pacific Islands

Alocasia Hilo Beauty

Common Name: Hilo Beauty Elephant Ear

Distribution: Tropical Forests of Asia

Alocasia infernalis

Common Name: Black Magic, Black Panther Alocasia

Distribution: Tropical Forests

Alocasia Jacklyn

Previous Name: Alocasia Tandurusa

Distribution: Southeast Asia and Eastern Australia

Alocasia Lauterbachiana

Common Name: Purple Sword

Distribution: Tropical Rainforests and Indoor Gardens

Alocasia Longiloba

Distribution: Tropical Forests, Indoors and Outdoors

Alocasia Macrorrhiza

Common Name: Alocasia Stingray

Distribution: Tropical Rainforests

Alocasia Macrorrhizos

Common Name: Giant Taro

Distribution: Tropical Regions

Alocasia Maharani

Common Name: Grey Dragon

Distribution: Tropical Region, Indoor Gardens in Different Countries

Alocasia Micholitziana

Common Name: Frydek, Green Velvet Alocasia

Distribution: Southeast Asia

Alocasia Nebula

Common Name: Silver Plant

Distribution: Rare Species Native to Tropical Regions

Alocasia Plumbae

Common Name: Flying Squid Plant

Distribution: Tropical Regions of Asia and Australia

Alocasia Portei

Common Name: Malaysian Monster

Distribution: Philippines

Alocasia Reginula

Common Name: Black Velvet

Distribution: Tropical Regions, Now Grown Indoors and Outdoors

Alocasia Rugosa

Common Name: Melo, Jewel Alocasia

Distribution: Sabah, Borneo

Alocasia sanderiana

Common Name: Sander’s Alocasia, Kris Plant

Distribution: Northern Mindanao

Alocasia Sarian

Distribution: Southeast Asia

Alocasia Sinuata

Common Name: Alocasia Quilted Dreams

Distribution: Endangered Species Native to the Philippines

sinua

Alocasia Tiny Dancer

Alocasia Wentii

Common Name: Purple Umbrella

Distribution: Asian Rainforests

Alocasia Zebrina

Common Name: Alocasia Reticulata

Distribution: Tropical Forests

Alocasia heterophylla

Common Name: Corazon Alocasia, Blue Metallic Plant

Alocasia Brancifolia

Common Name: Pink Passion

Hybrid Varieties of Alocasia African Masks

There are the following hybrid varieties of Alocasia plants.

  • Alocasia ‘Maroon Shield’ (Alocasia x cupredora)
  • Alocasia x calidora (Our selection of Alocasia x calidora)
  • Alocasia ‘Pixie Teardrops’ (selections of Alocasia x calidora)
  • Alocasia ‘Thunder Waves (Alocasia x portora)
  • Alocasia ‘Giant Shield’ (Alocasia x novodora)
  • Alocasia ‘Ripple Effect’ (Alocasia x albartei)
  • Alocasia ‘Emerald Shield’ (Alocasia x albaeana)
  • Alocasia ‘Corrugate Shield’ (Alocasia x odoralba)
  • Alocasia x saridora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia “Sarian”)
  • Alocasia’ Brisbane Blue’ (Alocasia brisbanensis x Alocasia odora “Azurea”)
  • Alocasia x porteana (Alocasia gageana x Alocasia portei)
  • Alocasia ‘Blue Blush Odora’ (Alocasia odora x Alocasia odora ‘Blue’)
  • Alocasia x vangidora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia ‘VangiGo’)
  • Alocasia ‘Brisbane Tigress’ (Alocasia brisbanensis x Alocasia tigrina superba)
  • Alocasia ‘Calidora Giant’ ((Alocasia x calidora) x Alocasia ‘Borneo Giant’)
  • Alocasia’ Brisbane Giant’ (Alocasia brisbanensis x Alocasia’ Borneo Giant’)
  • Alocasia ‘Borneo Mac’ (Alocasia ‘Borneo Giant’ x Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Big Mac’)
  • Alocasia ‘Imperial Giant’ (Alocasia ‘Borneo Giant’ x Alocasia ‘VangiGo’)
  • Alocasia ‘Brisbane Waves’ (Alocasia brisbanensis x Alocasia portei)
  • Alocasia ‘Sinuate Mac’ (Alocasia macrorrhizos “Big Mac” x Alocasia sinuata)
  • Alocasia “Frydek-Bullata” (Alocasia micholitziana ‘Frydek’ x Alocasia bullata
  • Alocasia x sanderidora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia sanderiana ‘Nobilis’)
  • Alocasia ‘Giant SilverShield’ (Alocasia ‘Borneo Giant’ x Alocasia watsoniana)
  • Alocasia’ Royal Sarawak’ (Alocasia reginae’ Miri” x Alocasia sarawakensis)
  • Alocasia x reginora (Alocasia Regal Shields) (Alocasia odora x Alocasia reginula)
  • Alocasia x nyctedora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia nycteris)
  • Alocasia ‘Manta Ray’ (Alocasia “Borneo Giant” x Alocasia nycteris)
  • Alocasia ‘Giant Zebra’ (Alocasia “Borneo Giant” x Alocasia zebrina)
  • Alocasia ‘Reticulate Giant’ (Alocasia “Borneo Giant” x Alocasia reticulata)

Alocasia Cultivation

Alocasia plants are typically cultivated in pots, but a better way is to grow plants in controlled conditions, like in a greenhouse. They love to grow under bright indirect light and can tolerate dim light but avoid placing it under bright direct light. Clean their leaves weekly, fertilize them during spring and summer, provide adequate humidity, and choose a free-draining, peat-free potting mix to grow or cultivate Alocasia plants. Similarly, select slightly acidic soil for cultivation as they love to grow there.

Alocasia Care Guide

Alocasia plants love to grow when provided with great care. You can care about Alocasia by mimicking its natural habitat conditions.

  • Place your Alocasias at the right spots facing bright indirect light. Thus, place them near the window, but avoid placing them near drying drafts.
  • Choose a free-draining, slightly acidic soil mix for growing them. Never choose hard soil, as watering your Alocasia will become soggy and result in overwatering, leading to root rot.
  • Water your plant only when the upper soil layer is 25-50% dry. Avoid over-watering or under-watering your Alocasias.
  • Alocasia Elephant Ear- Tropical superstar with large leaves grows well when temperature ranges between 65-85 F. Therefore, provide your plant with ideal temperatures and avoid placing them at places having temperature fluctuations like exterior outdoors.

Read detailed guide on Alocasia care.

  • Fertilize your plant during spring and summer, as these are the growing seasons of Alocasias, and they require energy to grow. Thus, fertilize them when needed. Avoid fertilizing them in winter as the plants have stopped growing, and fertilization will result in over-fertilization leading to leaf burn.
  • Prune the dead or damaged foliage from your Alocasias so that it can produce new leaves during the growing season.
  • Monitor your plant for pest and disease attacks. If you find any pest or fungal attack, cure them immediately with pesticides or fungicides.
  • Report your Alocasias after every 1-2 years as the plant requires more space to grow bigger.
  • Provide your plant with enough humidity levels by placing them near the kitchen, and bathrooms, using a humidifier, or planting them with other plants.
  • Give your Alocasia with odd showers as it wipes off pests and prevents further disease attacks.

This is how you can care about your Alocasia Elephant Ear.

Alocasias Propagation

Alocasia Elephant Ear- a tropical superstar with large leaves that can be propagated through different methods to increase the number of plants. These methods include;

  • Propagation Vis Offsets in which a mature plant gives rise to a new baby plant that you can separate following some steps and make them grow into a new plant.
  • The second method is propagation via splitting or dividing the tuber or rhizome, in which you separate the plant’s rhizome containing all the nodes and keep it in baking soda or soda ash. Then place that tuber or rhizome in a growth medium and allow it to produce a new Alocasia plant.
  • The third method of Alocasia propagation includes using corms or bulbs produced by mature plants. Remove the corms from root balls and place them in a soil medium to produce new plants.
  • Another efficient method of Alocasia propagation includes the division of root clumps that produce growing points. Separate those growing points and allow them to grow into a new plant.

You can propagate your Alocasias using two growth mediums: water similar to hydroponics and soil medium containing organic matter with necessary growth elements.

This way, Alocasia propagation helps you increase the number of beautiful and rare species of these plants.

Alocasia Dormancy

Alocasia dormancy is a natural process in which plants stop growing due to low light, shorter days, low temperature, low humidity, and dry air. Due to slow or reduced growth during dormancy, your plant will produce droopy, curling, yellow, or brown leaves with low feeding requirements. Therefore, to prevent your Alocasias from going dormant, reduce watering as the plant needs less water during winter, bring your plant inside, place it at the spot where it receives enough light, use artificial light, avoid fertilizing, maintain correct humidity levels, keep them pest free, remove debris from them, and use room-temperature water for its watering. Such conditions will help Alocasias to pass the frosting winter and prepare them for the next growing season.

Alocasia Flowering

Alocasia plants produce flowers when mature and provided with the best growth conditions. Also, their flowers are technically called inflorescence, which consists of a spadix surrounded by a lush green spathe. The spathe is a modified leaf enclosed in a growth chamber called a floral chamber. Mature Alocasias produce flowers in spring that are a rich source of seeds that you can use to grow new Alocasia plants. When your Alocasia African Mask produces flowers, provide the right soil mix and enough light, plant it correctly, do proper watering, fertilize it during its growing seasons, and maintain correct humidity levels. Providing your plant with such care helps it reach its full growth potential and produce flowers.

Disease and Pests

As Alocasia Elephant Ears are tropical, requiring humid conditions and regular watering, most people overwater them to ensure proper humidity. Overwatering favors disease and pest attacks. Different pests like aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, and scales badly infest Alocasia plants. Similarly, overwatering will make the soil soggy and increases fungal attack resulting in root rot disease. Therefore, to prevent your Alocasias from disease and pest infestation, water your plant only when it needs or when 25-50% of the soil is dry. Choose a well-draining and loose soil that drains out extra water through holes. Maintain temperatures between 65-85 F. Neem oil or fungicides can cure disease and pest attacks in severe cases.

Trouble Shooting Alocasias

Sometimes, your Alocasia plant may look a little unhappy due to bad growing conditions like low light, low humidity, overwatering, pest or disease attacks, temperature extremes and producing brown or yellow leaves, developing root rot, and may go dormancy. Similarly, they start producing curly and drooping leaves.

Quick Tips To Follow While Troubleshooting Alocasias

In such situations;

  • Prevent your Alocasias from overwatering, as overwatering will result in soggy soil, which is not ideal for plant growth.
  • Water your plant only when it needs.
  • Droopy leaves are caused due to over and under-watering low light, and insufficient nutrients. To prevent your Alocasia from producing droopy leaves, care for it by adjusting the watering schedule, placing it in a spot receiving enough light, and repotting it in a new bigger pot in summer to get enough nutrients.
  • Insufficient humidity may lead to brown spots or edges; therefore, regular misting increases humidity; use a pebble tray under the pot or increase humidity using a humidifier.
  • Your Alocasia may face pest infestation during summer. These pests include spider mites, mealy bugs, aphids, and others. Use pesticides or neem oil to prevent your plant from pest attack. Give your plant odd showers to clean dust and wipe out pests.
  • Cold weather may lead to Alocasia dormancy, and the plant stops taking nutrients from the soil. Therefore, to prevent your plant from going dormant, cut back dead, damaged or yellow leaves, reduce watering, place them inside at a warmer place, and reduce fertilization as the plant is not feeding.
  • Similarly, your Alocasias may produce curly leaves due to some growth factors. To prevent your plant from producing curly leaves, adjust the watering schedule, treat pest infestation, maintain temperature ranges, maintain water quality, use appropriate soil, maintain humidity, and don’t over-fertilize your plant.
  • Similarly, root rot of Alocasia is due to overwatering. To fix this problem, reduce watering, use soil with well-draining capacity, cut back dead or dying roots, and wash the remaining roots with fungicides to inhibit the further spread of the disease.
  • Reduce repotting stress by placing it in a new bigger pot containing the ideal potting mix after every 1-2 years.

Is Alocasia Poisonous?

Yes! Alocasias are poisonous to cats, dogs, and humans due to insoluble needle-like calcium oxalate crystals in their body parts. When ingested by any body part of the plant, it may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort due to tissue penetration, upper airway inflammation, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty swallowing.

When consumed in large quantities, which is rare, it can lead to dilated pupils, cardiac issues, and renal failure. The toxicity symptoms appear after 1-2 hours of ingestion and can last for 2-3 weeks after ingestion.

Therefore, if your cat or dog has ingested Alocasia body parts, try to remove them from the mouth, take your pet immediately to your veterinarian, and narrate all the details of the incident. The vet will prescribe some tests by himself or tests like blood tests. Follow your vet’s prescription, provide your pet a clean resting place and keep them in a cage overnight to avoid overexertion.

Medical Uses of Alocasia Elephant Ear- Tropical Superstar with Large Leaves

Several medicinal uses of Alocasias have been reported. For example;

  • Boiled stems of Alocasia mycorrhizas are used as a laxative, and chopped-up roots and leaves are used as a rubefacient. Juice from its petiole is used to cure cough.
  • The plants help stimulate the skin, like curing fever and removing blotches.
  • Their rhizome can sometimes be used as a poultice to cure furuncles.
  • The pounded stems are converted into a paste and used to cure snakebites and scorpion stings.
  • Similarly, the irritant juice of Alocasia longiloba is mixed in dart poisons as an addition to the active poison.
  • In China, Alocasia cucullata is used to cure snakebites.

Moreover, Alocasia mycorrhizas’ rhizome, stems, and leaves have been used as food, vegetable, and forage. Their rhizome is a good source of easily digested starch or flour. In addition, many Alocasias are used as ornamentals.

Final Words

Alocasia Elephant Ear-tropical superstar with large leaves, is a great houseplant known for its exotic foliage. The plant is native to rainforests of Asia and Eastern Australia. When grown indoors, it requires bright indirect light, high humidity levels, temperatures between 65-85 F, regular watering, slightly acidic soil, and fertilization. You can pick from over 90 varieties of this diverse genus and add a beautiful touch to your home garden. Thus, provide your plant with ideal conditions, protect them from dormancy, cure for disease and pest attacks, do fertilization during their growing season, and avoid ingesting them as they are toxic.

Frequently Asked Questions

What part of Alocasia Elephant Ear is edible?

The leaves of Alocasias are edible, but they contain toxic insoluble calcium oxalate crystals; therefore, cook before eating.

How to know if your Alocasia plant is over-watered?

If your Alocasia is overwatered, it develops root rot or fungal infection. Notice that its leaves will develop brown or black spots. Thus, provide it with enough humidity but avoid overwatering.

What is the most common variety of Alocasias?

Alocasia amazonica’ Polly” is the most common variety of Alocasia plants and the easiest one to grow.