November 26, 2007

Out of control elephant stampede

Elephant earsElephant ears

Elephant earsI call this an elephant (ear) stampede! I planted none of these Elephant Ears in this spot. We had one plant which became several in a concrete jardinera (planter box) outside the terraza. Now we have them in several spots and I usually have to remove them because they crowd out everything else.

Elephant earsThis plant spreads like crazy from roots, but this clump must have spread by seeds because the roots would have had to travel 3 feet (1 meter) down under the concrete wall and foundation and another 8-9 feet (2 meters) under the lawn to get to this spot.

I like the tropical look of the plant so I left the original, which has since become dozens. This area wasn't planted with anything else because we are planning to build a small pond here. (Someday, El Jefe?)

Elephant earsThis may be a Xanthosoma but there are so many similar plants. It develops a tuberous vegetable which is called malanga here in Honduras. Malanga is a little like a potato but has a gummy consistency reminiscent of Elmer's glue.

We gave some to a worker once and he brought some back cooked for me to try. It was okay, but I'd rather have a potato. I chuckled when I read in Wikipedia that the Polynesians consider it a 'famine food' and inferior to Colocasia, commonly called Taro. Maybe I would like it better in a different recipe rather than just boiled.

Elephant earsI also don't know when this plant produces the tubers because whenever I've suggested to the workers that they dig some up and take the malanga home, they never find any. Maybe the plants are too old or the tubers rot away during the rainy season.

Oh, well. For me this is best used as a decorative plant, but it is hard to keep those elephants under control.
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