Xanthosoma sagittifolium
Common Name: tannia 
Type: Bulb
Family: Araceae
Native Range: Mexico, Central and South Americas, Pacific islands, Caribbean
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Greenish white spathe with white spadix
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy

Culture

This tropical aroid is winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. In the St. Louis area, it must be grown as an annual and repurchased each spring or overwintered indoors. It is best grown in rich, deep, moist but well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Leaves may bleach or scorch in full sun. Site in locations protected from strong wind. This plant thrives in hot and humid conditions as long as it receives consistent moisture. Tuberous rhizomes should be planted in spring after the last frost date. Rhizomes may be planted directly in the ground (about 18” apart) or in large containers that may be placed above ground or sunk into the ground. Dig up rhizomes in fall before first frost for overwintering indoors in a cool, dry place (in the same manner as for cannas). Container plants may be brought indoors before frost for overwintering in a cool location either as a houseplant with reduced watering or as a cut back dormant plant.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Xanthosoma sagittifolium, commonly called tannia, is an herbaceous perennial from tropical America. Although its true native range is not precisely known, plants are now widely grown in the American tropics, not only for ornamental reasons, but also, both privately and commercially, for certain edible plant parts. Tuberous rhizomes (cook up like potatoes) are the primary food crop, but the young leaves (similar to spinach) and shoots are to a lesser extent used. In tropical climates, plants will grow to 6-9’ tall and produce huge green elephant-ear-like leaves to 4’ long and 3’ wide on stiff, ribbed petioles to 3’ long. Leaves are sagittate, hence the specific epithet. Flower is a greenish-white spathe enclosing a white spadix. In St. Louis, plants are grown ornamentally for their attractive foliage. Flowers are infrequently produced. Plants will grow in one season to 3-4’ tall with leaves to 2’ long.

Synonymous with Xanthosoma violaceum.

Genus name comes from the Greek words xanthos meaning yellow and soma meaning a body with reference to the yellow inner tissues of some species.

Specific epithet means arrow-leaved.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf spots and virus may occur. Pythium rot and Rhizoctonia rot. Watch for snails.

Uses

Tropical foliage plant for gardens and patios.