Alocasia Macrorrhiza (‘ape)
Don’t say ”’ape,” as though this is a monkey. “Awe pay” is right. In fact, “awe pay” feels like the right thing to say when you encounter a fleshy leaf more than three feet long on a waist-high stem. To grow leaves this big, ‘ape needs its favored habitat-a deep, moist gulch where the wind hardly stirs. Polynesians brought ‘ape, a native of India and Sri Lanka, wherever they traveled. This plant’s log-like, ground-hugging stem, whenever baked, ensured survival when better-tasting foods ran short.
The philodendron family, with its arrowhead-shaped leaves, its spike-in-a-cup flowers, and its water-loving habit, has been wildly successful in the tropics-l07 genera and about three thousand species. It includes anthodium, calla, spathiphyllum, caladium, monstera, philodendron, dieffenbachia, and (most important of all for Hawai’i) taro.
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