East Maui Taro Festival – this weekend

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A tropical Asian plant having large, spherical tubers
Common clues:
Edible root; Tropical tuber; Poi source; Starch source; South Seas staple; Hawaiian tuber; Root for Hawaiians; Luau leaf
Crossword puzzle frequency: 4 times a year
Frequency in English language: 48621 / 86800
News: Taste Test: McDonald's Taro Pie
Taro burgers

Taro(from Tahitian or other Polynesian languages), more rarely kalo (from Hawaiian), gabi in The Philippines and dalo in Fiji is a tropical plant grown primarily as a vegetable food for its edible corm, and secondarily as a leaf vegetable. It is considered a staple in oceanic cultures. It is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated plants. Taro is closely related to Xanthosoma and Caladium, plants commonly grown as ornamentals, and like them it is sometimes loosely called elephant ear. In its raw form the plant is toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate, although the toxin is destroyed by cooking or can be removed by steeping taro roots in cold water overnight.

Taro roots (corms) for sale at a market in California, 2009

Taro was probably first native to the lowland wetlands of Malaysia (taloes). Estimates are that taro was in cultivation in wet tropical India before 5000 B.C., presumably coming from Malaysia, and from India further transported westward to ancient Egypt, where it was described by Greek and Roman historians as an important crop.

Taro has a flavor that has often been likened to that of artificial butter used for popcorn in movie theatres and Sour Patch candies.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Taro".