What else could be a perfect addition to your tropical garden than a plant that is outlandish, has large splendid leaves and forms a lip smacking meal addition to your dinner table?
Xanthosoma Sagittifolium is also commonly known to be “what is Yautia” or Elephant ear plant is a major invader of the tropical regions of the world. It is majorly grown as a food plant, as it yields the Coco Yam, which forms an important part of the diet in several countries. Once harvested, the tubers can be stored for several weeks at room temperature or still longer by refrigeration.
The Yautia plants sometimes have some features such as: they have very large arrow-shaped leaves, which are one of the striking and elegant leaves of the plant kingdom. These leaves give a naturally aesthetic appearance. Thus, making it an important member of the garden landscape in tropical regions of the world. This guide will give you a detailed description of what is Yautia plant, how to grow or cultivate and several other amazing factors about them.
Origin of Yautia
The Elephant ears originated in the northern lowland of South America and spread quickly throughout the Caribbean. Today, it is majorly grown in Cuba, Philippines, and Africa. It is also considered to be invasive in the southern regions of Florida, where they are consumed by Latin American and Caribbean communities who are living there.
West Africa is a major producer of Yautia. This plant was initially considered to be a ‘famine food’ as it can be stored for several days. It is rich in starch, which gives nutrition to withstand food scarcity.
How to Grow Yautia in Your Garden?
Yautia is a perennial plant and is a flowering edible vegetable. As it is a perennial plant, it grows and flourishes for a minimum period of 3 years and more. It is a low maintenance plant and is best for beginners who are into gardening. Planting Yautia is recommended if you are in a situation where you do not have much time to oversee your garden.
Plant the Yautia bulbs in a region which receives partial sunlight and water it moderately. They require well-drained soils and cannot withstand the permanent presence of water.
Difference between Colocasia and Yautia
Now that we have understood what Yautia is, not all plants which have similar leaves are the cocoyam. The colocasia is another tuberous plant which is cultivated in the tropical regions for food. Both yautia and colocasia belong to the same family of species and have minor similarities and differences.
The leaves of Colocasia and Yautia are exactly similar, yet you can find the difference between them. The stalk attaches at the base of the ‘V’ shaped region of the leaf for a Yautia, whereas in Colocasia it attaches several inches from the base of the leaf. The Yautia plant is 9 feet tall; whereas, Colocasia is shorter and rarely reaches 4 feet in height.
How to Use Yautia for Edible Purpose?
The Yautia plant is an underground stem. The edible tubers are grown in the soil at the base of the plant. All the valuable nutrients for the parent plant are stored in the underground stem. This makes the elephant ear plant extremely valuable, due to the rich concentration of essential nutrients.
- The corms of the Yautia plant appear like yam and have an orange colored skin with the hairy When cut, they have a creamy white flesh. The corms weigh half to two pounds or even more. The leaves of the elephant ear plant are also edible. The young and tender leaves can be used for preparing the stew.
- It is to be noted that some parts of the elephant ear plant are poisonous. The clear and sticky sap of the leaf and stem can cause severe itching.
- In Africa, the Yautia plant is widely sued for preparing a dish called ‘fufu,’ which is very popular in the southern and western regions of tropical Africa. Yautia chips or dehydrated crisps are also becoming popular recently.
- Apart from these dishes, the corm of the Yautia plant can also be grilled, fried, stewed and ground into a floor for consumption. The flour of yautia’s corm is rich in protein and forms a healthy substitute for making cookies, bread or other snacks. Consumers of Yautia claim that it tastes more like a nut than a vegetable.
Problems with Growing Yautia
The elephant ear plants, which are planted on the ground, have a tendency to invade and grow monstrously during warm weather conditions. They are massive plants and crown out native species by their expansion.
The Yautia plants develop new leaves as and when the older leaves dry and wither. Hence, naturally, they leave a huge amount of foliage, which has to be cleaned up.
The edible corm of Yautia is low in sodium and is packed with vitamin B6, potassium, and copper. It has got very low saturated fat and cholesterol. They are easily digestible and hence definitely a healthy substitute compared to other tubers.
Also, the elephant ear plants are easy to grow and maintain. What more? You have your tropical garden and a nutritious cooking ingredient which can form a scrumptious meal! Bon Appétit!