- History and Culture
Colocasia esculenta is a common tropical plant originating from southern Indian and Southeast Asia. It is also commonly known as Wild taro or Dasheen. It has been naturalized throughout the tropics, being used as an important food source thanks to its corms, its stems and leaves. It is considered a staple in many cultures and is one of the most widely cultivated vegetables of the Araceae family. In Mauritius, the plant is referred to as sonz or bred sonz while the corms are known as arouy. The plant has rhizomes of different shapes and sizes, from which sprouts grow. It has large leaves of around 40 centimeters long by 25 centimeters wide.
Taro plants require a lot of moisture for their production, in part due to their large transpiring surface. It can reproduce both sexually by seeds and vegetatively by its corms. The species thrives in wet or flooded conditions and is therefore often found around rivers or flooded areas in Mauritius. In its native environment it is found in wet fields and near the banks of ponds and streams.
No measure is taken for the conservation of C. esculenta, the species is considered ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Threated Species.
Flowering of taro is infrequent and is usually hidden by the leaves; for genetic diversity, flowering is induced through the spraying of gibberellic acid. The leaves of “sonz” are consumed in curry and the rhizome is used as a staple food.