Alocasia vs Colocasia: What’s the Difference?

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Written by August Croft

Published: August 17, 2022

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While they look strikingly similar to one another, there are some key differences between alocasia vs colocasia. They may both be known colloquially as elephant ear plants, but what things do they have in common besides this name, and what things separate them from each other?

In this article, we will compare and contrast alocasia with colocasia so that you can fully understand both plants as individuals. We will go over their physical appearances as well as what they are typically used for, and we’ll even give you their growing preferences. Let’s get started and learn all about these plants now!

Comparing Alocasia vs Colocasia

Alocasia vs Colocasia
Alocasia grows larger than colocasia, depending on the variety.
AlocasiaColocasia
ClassificationAlocasia; roughly 90 subspeciesColocasia; roughly 20 subspecies
DescriptionDepending on the variety, this plant can reach anywhere from 2-10 feet in height and 3-5 feet wide, based on how large the leaves are. Leaves grow anywhere from 5-30 inches long and range in color and shape. Most leaves are shaped like triangles or hearts and point out or up, and they come in green, black, red, white, and stripedDepending on the variety, this plant can reach anywhere from 3-8 feet in height and 3-7 feet wide, depending on the leaves and growth of the plant. Leaves can reach up to 4-5 feet in size, but only on giant varieties, and they are shaped like shields or hearts. The tips of these leaves point downward. Colocasia roots are edible, also known as taro, but it depends on the variety. Plant comes in a variety of colors, including shades of green, gray, purple, and white
UsesUsed as a houseplant and greenhouse beauty around the world; roots can be eaten, but often not without adverse reactionUsed in a culinary capacity as well as an ornamental one. A popular houseplant and backyard addition, though some varieties are considered invasive
Origin and Growing PreferencesOriginated in Asia and Australia; can tolerate low light to indirect light, but doesn’t like full sun. Humidity is key, and pruning old leaves is also importantOriginated in Asia and India; enjoys dappled light or indirect sun as well as consistently moist soil. Avoid drying out, and keep in a humid location
Special Features and Fun FactsIn hot times of the year, alocasia plants can produce one or two huge leaves per week!When properly prepared, both the leaves and the root are edible and eaten in a variety of locations around the world!

Key Differences Between Alocasia vs Colocasia

alocasia vs colocasia

Alocasia plants have roughly 90 subspecies within their classification, while colocasia plants have roughly 20 different species.

©Phuttharak/Shutterstock.com

There are a number of key differences between alocasia and colocasia. For example, alocasia grows larger than colocasia, depending on the variety. In addition, the leaves of the colocasia plant typically grow larger than the leaves of the alocasia plant. Finally, there are more subspecies of alocasia than there are subspecies of colocasia.

Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now.

Alocasia vs Colocasia: Classification

There are enough undeniable similarities between alocasia and colocasia that it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear they’re related. In fact, alocasia and colocasia belong to the same plant family, known as Araceae. However, these two plants belong to their own species, and they have numerous subspecies belonging to them. This leads to some subtle differences in their appearances.

Alocasia vs Colocasia: Description

alocasia vs colocasia

The leaves of the colocasia plant typically grow larger than the leaves of the alocasia plant.

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You may not know how to tell an alocasia and a colocasia apart right away. In fact, some varieties look so similar to one another that you may never know which type of plant you are looking at! However, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the large leaves found on the alocasia plant point outwards or upwards, while the leaves on the colocasia plant droop downward.

In general, the colocasia grows larger leaves compared to the leaves found on the alocasia. However, some plant varieties of alocasia grow taller and wider compared to colocasia. Both of these plants come in a variety of colors and appearances, all illustrated within their vibrant and expressive leaves. However, alocasia plants have roughly 90 subspecies within their classification, while colocasia plants have roughly 20 different species.

Alocasia vs Colocasia: Uses

alocasia vs colocasia

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the large leaves found on the alocasia plant point outwards or upwards, while the leaves on the colocasia plant droop downward.

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Both alocasia and colocasia are prized for their beautiful leaves, in an indoor or outdoor setting. However, some colocasia varieties are also known as taro and prized for their edible roots, while the same cannot be said for alocasia. You can eat both of these plants when prepared properly, including the roots and leaves. Use caution however, as alocasia and colocasia contain certain toxins that can negatively impact your throat and mouth upon consumption!

Alocasia vs Colocasia: Origin and How to Grow

Alocasia and colocasia have similar ways in which they prefer to grow, though they both originated in different locations. For example, alocasia originated in Asia and Australia, while colocasia originated in India and Asia. In addition, colocasia plants enjoy more water compared to alocasia varieties. Plus, alocasia plants can tolerate lower levels of light compared to the colocasia, though both need to be trained to handle direct sunshine.

Alocasia vs Colocasia: Special Features

alocasia vs colocasia

Colocasia plants enjoy more water compared to alocasia varieties.

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Both of the plants known as elephant ears are special, for a number of reasons. When it comes to edible colocasia plants, their roots are delicious and safe to consume when prepared properly. Taro root is a popular dish around the world, though this may not be something you are interested in when you buy your first colocasia plant! The alocasia plant is special too: it can produce at least one large leaf per week in the summertime, when properly cared for!


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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