Colocasia esculenta: an account of its ethnobotany and potentials
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Taro, Colocasia esculenta, is a unique root crop that serves as an important dietary component in the Pacific islands and in parts of Asia and Africa. Cultivation of taro as a food crop might have ancient origin as is evident from variety of ritualistic use of taro in different parts of the world. Even though it has been postulated that taro was domesticated in the old world, the widespread cultivation of taro calls for a discussion regarding its origin. Wild varieties of C. esculenta are known from regions of Eastern India, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula. Other wild varieties have been reported from the Indo-Pacific region and China. The two prominent chromosome number series are 2n=28 and 2n=42. But, chromosome number series 2n= 28, 42, 36, and 48 have been reported from India indicating the centre of highest diversity. A certain amount of controversy exists over classification and nomenclature of this polymorphic species. Primary products of the plants are the corms and cormels. Taro is also used in traditional medicine. It has been known to be nutritionally superior to other starchy crops like potato. This document reviews previous works done on classification and nomenclature of taro, morphology, origin of taro, production and agronomy, and finally ethnobotany of taro across the major taro producing countries.