What is Xanthosoma?

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  • Written By: Pamela Pleasant
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 15 February 2019
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Xanthosoma is a flowering perennial plant that belongs to the araceae family of plants. It is considered tropical to subtropical and it is native to South America. These plants are mainly used as ornamentals and they can be grown successfully indoors or outdoors. The xanthosoma is also referred to as an elephant’s ear because of the shape of its leaves. In Jamaica and West Africa, this plant is used as food.

The xanthosoma plant has deep red stems, which hold large dark green leaves. They are glossy and round and the bottom of the leaflet narrows down into a point. A thick vein runs along the middle of the leaf with several smaller thinner veins stemming off of it. Although the xanthosoma is known for its larger leaves, it produces unusual blooms that appear in late spring to early fall.

Blooms that appear on the xanthosoma plant are an off white to pale green color. They grow out of a bulb-like stem and they have only one large petal. It wraps around a tunnel-shaped white center and the petal itself is rounded. The top of the flower comes to a sharp point. Xanthosoma flowers have a pleasant fragrance.


This plant is hardy and it can survive in temperatures that go below 20 Fahrenheit (around 6 C). It also requires plenty of shade and it should be kept in an area that is shaded for most of the day. Full direct sunlight could scorch the delicate flowers and leaves and may cause permanent damage to the plant. The xanthosoma also thrives in mildly acidic soil, so it should be tested before planting. If the soil is not acidic, the soil can be enriched with fertilizer.

These plants can grow to up to 12 feet (around 3 m) and although they only space out to 6 feet (around 1 m), they can easily take over a garden. This plant is an invasive plant, which means it has a tendency to spread out and grow in unintended areas. If it is planted outdoors, it should be kept far away from other plants and placed in its own separate area.

No livestock, animals, or children should be around this plant. Any part of the plant is considered dangerous because it is poisonous. The xanthosoma plant should always be placed on a slight hill so the water can drain away from the delicate root system.



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