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A Rare Bloom at the Garden! - Aug 29, 2011

by: Mark Konlock, Director of Horticulture, Green Bay Botanical Garden

Blooming Elephant Ear in the Gertrude B. Nielsen Children's Garden

Have you ever eaten an elephant ear?  I mean the pastry not the plant!  Delicious!!  However, don’t eat the plant.  The tissues contain calcium oxalate crystals which must be removed by boiling or steaming.  Interestingly, despite this nuisance, Colocasia esculenta is a widely eaten vegetable and is used to make poi in Hawaii for all you luau fans.  But I digress.  Here at GBBG we have elephant ears in flower.  Being that elephant ears (Colocasia species) are a wetland tropical plant, they prefer a long, warm and moist climate, which Wisconsin doesn’t usually provide.  So, to see one blooming the conditions must have come together for just the right amount of time, thus, we have a butter-cream peace-lily looking flower.  This is the first time we have seen them flowering at Green Bay Botanical Garden and for that matter in Wisconsin.  However, we have seen them blooming in Pennsylvania.  Since we over-wintered our plant as plants last winter instead of corms, it may have given them the extra growth period they require to flower.  If you are interested in more information about this bold tropical plant, click here.

And grab a snack while you learn more.  May I suggest a similarly formed sweet treat!


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