Dr. Jon Cho of the University of Hawaii has achieved a significant breakthrough in colocasia breeding. One of the beneficial attributes of Cho’s breeding of the Royal Hawaiian colocasias, which earned our Editor’s Choice award last year, is either very short stolons or lack of above- or below-ground stolons or runners. The runner attribute is a characteristic of wild-type taros that is useful for survival in the tropics and spreading the species. Runners are not, however, very useful in the landscape.
Colocasias introduced in the United Stated with the stolon attribute, and subsequent escape into the natural environment, have become a problem in certain subtropical areas. As a result, colocasias have gained the status of an invasive plant.
All of Cho’s ornamental hybrids that have been released have very short or no stolons. The rationale for release of only those with short or no stolons is to avoid introducing invasive types that may later escape into the environment. All future hybrids will have the short or no-stolon attribute.
Currently, many of the colocasias being marketed generate long stolons. Breeding the non-invasive characteristics of his hybrids with new ornamental attributes, or as replacements to those already being marketed, could revolutionize landscape plantings of colocasia.
For more information, visit www.royalhawaiiancolocasias.com.