Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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taro the most widely used name for members of a group of tropical root crops, mostly of the genus Colocasia and especially C. esculenta. Taro is native to the Old World, but has become an important source of food in tropical and warm regions worldwide.

The taro root is, botanically speaking, a corm. Cultivated varieties are usually the size of a very large potato, roughly top shaped and circled all over their surface with rough ridges. There are many lumps and spindly projecting roots. The skin is brown and hairy. Inside, the flesh may be white, pink, or purple. Some sorts of taro produce small subsidiary ‘cormels’ of the same shape as the parent. In the W. Indies these smaller cormels are called ‘eddos’—from the W. African word for any taro—and the main central corm ‘dasheen’, a creole name supposedly adapted from the French de Chine (from China, an erroneous attribution).