Common Name

Hawaiian Name

Scientific Name
Colocasia esculenta


Whole plant



Location On Campus

One location where you can find Kalo on campus would be in the garden next to Kaiona room 51. Another location on campus where you can find Kalo is outside of Alice Knapp, West Dormitory in a small taro patch next to the rock wall located outside of the dorm, closest to Keawe gym.

Natural Habitat

 You can find the kalo plant on the islands of O‘ahu at Mauna Loa, Hanalei on Kaua'i, and Maui at Ke'eane. You can find the kalo plant at many other places in Hawai'i where it's moist such as in the mountain areas and valleys.

Cultural Information

In order for wet taro to grow it needs a marshy environment. For dry taro, it needs moist uplands. Kalo was the main staple for Hawaiian people. It was Polynesian introduced. The Hawaiians used kalo for healing herbs, and food. Hawaiians would pound the taro to make poi as one of their meals for the day.

Plant Description


  • Interior tough, dense and fibrous
  • Used for food and medicine
  • Rough and dark skinned
  • Size and shape of a potato
  • Underground stem or corm


  • Grows erect
  • Colors are green,red, and black
  • When the stem is gated in it pushes it way out to the inner most stalk of the plant unrolls and emerges out
  • Is about 30 to 65 cm tall
  • Used for food and medicine


  • Up to 60 cm long and up to 15-17 cm wide
  • Heart shaped
  • May be dark or light in color
  • Used for food and medicine


  • Sterile flowers located at the top and middle of plant
  • Fertile flowers located between the female part of the plant


  • As flowers disappear, fruit enlarges following pollination
  • Average of two to five seeds in each ripe berry 


  • Seeds are rarely produced 


  • By seeds
  • By cuttings or hulis( cut leaf crown from root stock from harvested taro  off shoots or keiki kalo: it can be cut or broken off from mother plant and planted like a huli)

Other Facts:

  • Used for bait for ‘öpelu fishing
  • Used for gluing kapa pieces together
  • Used for medicine for a mild case of constipation
  • Contains vitamin A, B and C

Web Site Links

Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawai‘i

At this web site you will be able to find a few pictures of the plant and more information about the plant.

Hawaiian Foods and Tropical Plants

At this web site you will be able to find facts about the taro leaves, the different types of taro leaves and a different description of the plant.

East-Maui Taro Festival-Häna, Maui

At this web site you will find. You will find a few information about the kalo history, the festivals and different celebrations of the plant.


Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawai'i. Lyton Dove White, Web writer.1994.Ho‘okele Hawai‘i School. 1 April 2003 <>.

Kepler, Kay Angela. Hawaiian Heritage Plant. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1998.

Krauss, H. Beatrice. Plants in Hawaiian Medicine. Honolulu, Hawaii: The Bess Press, Inc., 2001.

Nagata, M. Kenneth. How to Plant A Native Hawaiian Garden. Honolulu, Hawaii: State of Hawaii Office of Environment Qualify Control, 1992.

Wang, Jaw-Kai. Taro. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1983.



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