Alocasia vs Colocasia: Similarities & Differences of the Elephant Ears

There is often confusion between Alocasia and Colocasia plants because of their similar appearances. These tropical houseplants have very similar leaves and colors that even veteran plant growers may have difficulty distinguishing them. Throughout this guide, we cover everything you need to know about Alocasia vs Colocasia.

What is Alocasia?

Alocasia is a stunning species of tropical plant with arrowhead-shaped leaves and glossy surfaces. They are broad-leaved plants that come back every year because they grow from their tubers instead of seeds. In this genus, about 90 species have been identified, originating in tropical and subtropical Asia and eastern Australia.

Alocasia plants grow quickly and are chosen for their stunning foliage that can be the center of attention in any room. 

Alocasia is toxic to humans and animals, so be careful if you have children or pets at home. Plants should be handled correctly and kept in a safe place to prevent any problems. 

Related Post:
100+ Alocasia Varieties With Names and Pictures

What is Colocasia?

Colocasia Black Magic
Colocasia Black Magic

Often called Elephant Ears or Taro, Colocasia are tropical perennial plants. This genus has roughly 20 identified species originating from Southeast Asia and India and is prized for its ornamental qualities.

Colocasia leaves are plain-green and large. In general, they tend to be rounded and pointed downward. There are often prominent veins on the Colocasia leaves, which come to a point at the end. 

Alocasia vs Colocasia: Similarities

Alocasia and Colocasia belong to the same family of plants, Araceae. These two species are known as elephant’s ears due to their large leaves. Alocasia is a perennial that grows in zones 8b to 11 of the US Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness zone chart. With a hardiness zone of 8 to 11, colocasia has a very similar growing zone.

The fast growth of both of these Elephant Ear plants makes them popular and prized. The hotter and more humid the weather, the faster these tropical plants grow. Alocasia plants can grow up to five feet per year if given the right conditions. Plants of the Colocasia genus tend to grow faster, with growth rates between four and eight feet per year. 

Even though they share many similarities, the species differ in some ways that make them distinct.

Alocasia vs Colocasia: Differences


There is a noticeable difference between these plants in their leaves. Petioles, or stiff leaves stems, extend to the leaves of Alocasia. The petioles form a line along which the leaves follow. This results in most Alocasia leaves pointing upwards. In some varieties of Alocasia, the leaves extend horizontally.

alocasia vs colocasia
Alocasia macrorrhizos

A Colocasia petiole, on the other hand, connects down from the notch in the leaf. As a result, the leaves hang downward at an angle. In this way, it is easy to distinguish between the two plants: if the leaves point up, this is probably an Alocasia, and if the leaves point down, this is probably a Colocasia.

Colocasia esculenta

Despite the fact that leaf blade orientation can help to distinguish Alocasia and Colocasia plants, it isn’t foolproof.

A simple way to tell them apart is to examine the undersides of their leaves. Alocasia plants have waxy glands where the primary lateral vein separates from the main vein. These glands are absent in Colocasia. A magnifying glass or the naked eye can be used to see them.

In terms of texture, the leaves of the Alocasia have a shiny surface that is thick, waxy, and glossy. In addition to dark greens, they can also be found in come in black, red, white, and striped.

Colocasia leaves have a matte finish and are slightly rougher in texture. Most of them are green, but there are plenty of variations. Also available are black-leaved varieties, black-spotted varieties, gray, purple, and white.


Colocasias grow between three and eight feet, but some can grow as small as eight inches or as large as nine feet. The average height of Alocasias is two to six feet, which is smaller than Colocasia, though some can grow as large as ten feet.

Growing Conditions

The best environment for Alocasia plants is in shade or partial sunlight. Full exposure to the sun, especially in warm climates, can damage these plants. Despite the fact that Alocasia plants need frequent watering, they require soil that drains well and doesn’t remain wet. There is a tendency for Alocasia plants planted in extremely wet locations for long periods to develop root rot.

The Colocasia plant, on the other hand, benefits from full sun exposure. Standing water is not an issue for it; unlike Alocasia, it grows well in wet soil (although it dislikes being wet in the winter). Because of this, it requires soil that is rich in compost and does not stay wet during the winter.


In addition, one difference lies below the surface of the ground between the two plants. Alocasia develops tubers as well as rhizomes. Propagation of Alocasia is done by separating a tuber from the main growth and replanting it. You can also divide the rhizomes and plant them separately to start new plants.

By contrast, Colocasia only develops tubers. In order to propagate, the tubers are to be separated and planted. Colocasia tubers are large, swollen, and banded. Alternatively, Alocasia tubers are thin and long.

Use for Food

These plants have edible parts, but there are a number of significant differences between them. There are many varieties of Colocasia grown for their edible tubers, which are called taros. Colocasia is widely cultivated in Hawaii, where taro is an important food crop.

Most Alocasia varieties, however, are not edible. Several of them are poisonous and could prove fatal if eaten. Some types of Alocasia have edible stems, unlike Colocasia varieties that have edible tubers. Suitable preparation of the stems is necessary in order to avoid gastrointestinal distress.

In nurseries, most Alocasia varieties are likely to be non-edible, since edible varieties are mostly grown by agricultural concerns.

Summary: Alocasia vs Colocasia

SpeciesAbout 90 identified speciesAbout 20 identified species
Hardiness Zones8b to 118 to 11
OriginsTropical and subtropical Asia and eastern AustraliaSoutheast Asia and India
HeightBetween 3 to 8 feet, but some can grow as small as 8 inches or as large as 9 feetBetween 2 to 6 feet, but some can grow as large as 10 feet
Leaves AppearancePetioles extend to the leaves of Alocasia, resulting in leaves pointing upwards or growing horizontallyPetioles connect down from the notch in the leaf, resulting in leaves hanging at a downward angle
Leaves TextureShiny surface that is thick, waxy, and glossyMatte finish and are slightly rougher in texture
Leaves ColorUsually dark green, but also black, red, white, and stripedUsually green, but also black, black-spotted, gray, purple, and white
TubersDevelops tubers as well as rhizomes. Tubers are thinner and longerDevelops tubers only. Tubers are large, swollen, and banded
Use for FoodSome varieties have edible stems but need special preparationHave edible tubers called taros
Light RequirementsShade or partial sunlightFull sunlight
Water RequirementsFrequent watering but no standing waterLikes standing water, but dislikes being wet in the winter
Soil RequirementsWell-draining soilCompost-rich & consistently moist soil


Are Elephant Ears and Alocasia the same?

An elephant ear is a tropical perennial plant grown for its large leaves rather than its flowers. The elephant ear is a common name for several plant species belonging to three genera: Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma.

It’s possible to grow all three types of elephant ears outdoors or as houseplants, though Colocasias and Xanthosomas tend to be more common outdoors (they’re much larger) and Alocasias tend to be more common indoors.

Is taro plant an Alocasia?

Taro is another name for the tubers of Colocasia, which are used in Hawaiian cuisine as food. They are large and swollen, with striped bands encircling them. Alocasia tubers are thinner, thinner, and plain, with no prominent stripes.

Is Colocasia related to Alocasia?

In the plant world, both Alocasia and Colocasia are members of the Araceae family. The leaves of both species of elephant ears are very large and are also known as elephant ears because of their size. Even though they are both members of the same family, they are strikingly different from each other in many ways.

Is Black Magic Colocasia or Alocasia?

Black Magic is one of the new breeds of Colocasia. Its scientific name is Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’. The plant is commonly referred to as the “black elephant ear plant” or the taro. With its easy-to-grow, shapely foliage plant, Colocasia esculenta Black Magic adds a new touch of style and durability to tropical landscapes.