Hooghly Today : Colocasia antiquorum Schott. (wild purple var)

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surajit koley

Jan 18, 2013, 1:04:46 PM1/18/13
to efloraofindia

This is another wild variety KOCHU, found in ditches and in wet places.

(i) Leaf blade adaxially matte...... (water sometimes forming "mercury droplets") ------- C.esculenta (L.) Schott
(ii) Leaf blade adaxially glossy and wettable .....  -------- C. antiquorum Schott

(i) Leaves with a bronze margin; spathe dark yellow --------- C. nymphaeifolia Kunth.
(ii) Leaves not bronze-margined; spathe pale yellow --------- C. antiquorum Schott

"Flora Indica" gives more detailed account :-

Thank you,



J.M. Garg

Jan 24, 2013, 4:57:30 AM1/24/13
to efloraofindia, cory...@hotmail.com, manudevk...@gmail.com, jorge....@gmail.com, phyma...@gmail.com, Peter Matthews, surajit koley

Forwarding again for Id confirmation or otherwise please.


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surajit koley

Jan 24, 2013, 9:56:33 AM1/24/13
to Matthews, J.M. Garg, efloraofindia, cory...@hotmail.com, manudevk...@gmail.com, jorge....@gmail.com, phyma...@gmail.com
Good evening Sir

While a large section of West Bengal people likes to eat this variety of Arum others do not even touch it. It is not sold in our local market, the people collect it from its natural habitat. They call it KALO-KOCHU (black-arum).

I do not know if this Arum grows corm. But i have been told that the leaves and the foot-stalks are eaten, and the same had been noted by Roxburgh in Flora Indica.

This variety is well distributed in entire Hooghly. I cover about 30 km area to record our flora, and i have seen it in all places. The main inhabitants within this 30 km range often destroys them since they consider it as a weed. But, if left undisturbed they can grow upto 4 ft high. Roxburgh noted three wild species in addition to two cultivated species of Arum. It appears to me that it is one of those three wild ones.

We have another, more common, wild variety and i uploaded the same at - https://groups.google.com/d/topic/indiantreepix/oVEpOpOg5GE/discussion. No one eats this common variety of wild Arum.

Both of the above two varieties are more or less similar to their morphology and habitat.

Thank you very much.



On Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 5:52 PM, Matthews <researchc...@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Surajit,

That looks well within the range of variability of Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott sensu latu (cf Plucknett 1983. Taxonomy of the genus Colocasia. In: Taro a review of Colocasia esculenta and its Potentials).

In such modified habitats, it could be a natural wild form (wildtype) taking advantage of open, wet conditions, or it could be a cultivar that has naturalised. Our present knowledge of variability in wild and cultivated populations of C. esculenta is not really enough to recognise C. antiquorum as a species (which was probably described by Schott on the basis of a cultivated form).

It would be useful to ask local people if they consider it an edible, corm-forming type, or an acrid wild form with little value, or with minor uses. If considered inedible by them, and if the same form widespread both in modified habitats and more natural environments in your area, and if it forms a breeding population -  then it could be a natural population that has expanded into modified habitats. If the distribution is very localised and mainly in modified habitats, then it is more likely to be a feral (naturalised) cultivar.

The petioles of cultivated forms of taro range in colour from pale yellow through light green to dark green, purple and near black, leaf shapes are extremely diverse, spadix morphology is also diverse (sterile appendage varies greatly from absent to very long), and vegetative side shoots range from cormels, to short stolons with cormels, and long stolons without cormels.

When the morphology of a wild form lies within the range of the variability of a highly polymorphic cultigen such as C. esculenta, we need to know a lot more about a particular wild population before we can consider it it to be a wildtype, or a natural species distinct from the cultigen.

Peter M., Kyoto

Dr Peter J. Matthews
Field Sciences Laboratory &
Department of Social Research
National Museum of Ethnology, Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka 565-8511, Japan.

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