Tacca leontopetaloides
Common Name: batflower 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Native Range: Western Africa, southeast Asia, northern Australia
Zone: 8 to 11
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Yellow-green to purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Fruit: Edible


Best grown in evenly moist, humusy to sandy, well-draining soils in full sun to part shade. Hardy from Zones 8-12. Can be propagated by seed and division

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tacca leontopetaloides, commonly called bat flower or Polynesian arrowroot, is a tuberous perennial native to tropical forest openings and grassy thickets of Africa, southern Asia, and Oceania. The starchy tubers can reach up to 4" in diameter and have white interiors with grey-brown outer skin. The large, lobed leaves are ovate in shape and can reach up to 2' long and 4' wide. One or two leaves can arise from a single rhizome. The inflorescence is made up of a cluster of small, yellow-green to purple flowers with long, drooping string-like bracts (up to 10" long) and held on a 3' tall stalk.

Genus name comes from the Indonesian name, taka.

The specific epithet leontopetaloides means "lion's petals", in reference to the appearance of the blooms.


No major pest or disease problems.


A striking specimen plant when in bloom. Situate near walkways or seating areas so that the unique flowers may be enjoyed. Starch from the root can be extracted and used for culinary purposes. This plant also has a number of traditional medical uses.