What's an "elephant’s ear"?

Picture the ear of that popular pachyderm, the elephant. Now picture it bright green. What you've got is the leaf of the colocasia plant: When you see them, there's no question where they get their common name of elephant's ear. Elephant's ear grows easily and can reach up to eight feet (2.4 meters) tall and very wide. These plants grow quite quickly, so if you choose them for your garden, be sure to give them plenty of room. They do particularly well in wet soil, but thrive in almost any type of earth except clay. This isn't a flowering plant, but it will fill your yard with tropical green color.

During the summer, the colocasia is low-maintenance, requiring no pruning or shaping. Nonetheless, it does need a good amount of water, so if you live in an area with little rainfall, make sure it stays moist through the dry season and water as necessary.


Colocasia plants can be considered either an annual or a perennial plant, depending on location. In colder climates, they are annuals: They need to be dug up and stored in a dry place for the winter, then replanted in spring when the weather warms [source: Central Florida Farms]. In areas with milder winters they can be left in the ground all year long and are considered perennials. Elephant's ears have edible tubers that are a popular food in the South Pacific [source: North Carolina State University].Taro roots from one type of colocasia plant can be cooked and eaten like potatoes, but you should check whether you have an edible variety before getting out the pots and pans, and follow cooking instructions carefully. Don't eat the leaves; these are poisonous [Source: Dave's Garden].