Alocasia macrorrhizos (L.) G.Don

Last updated: 27 May 2016

Scientific Name

Alocasia macrorrhizos (L.) G.Don


Alocasia cordifolia (Bory) Cordem., Alocasia grandis N.E.Br. [Illegitimate], Alocasia indica (Lour.) Spach, Alocasia marginata N.E.Br., Alocasia metallica Schott, Alocasia montana (Roxb.) Schott, Alocasia pallida K.Koch & C.D.Bouché, Alocasia plumbea Van Houtte, Alocasia rapiformis (Roxb.) Schott, Alocasia uhinkii Engl. & K.Krause, Alocasia variegata K.Koch & C.D.Bouché, Arum cordifolium Bory, Arum indicum Lour., Arum macrorrhizon L., Arum montanum Roxb., Arum mucronatum Lam., Arum peregrinum L., Arum rapiforme Roxb., Caladium indicum K.Koch [Invalid], Caladium macrorrhizon (L.) R.Br., Caladium metallicum Engl., Caladium odoratum Lodd., Caladium plumbeum K.Koch [Invalid], Calla badian Blanco, Calla maxima Blanco, Colocasia boryi Kunth, Colocasia indica (Lour.) Kunth, Colocasia macrorrhizos (L.) Schott, Colocasia montana (Roxb.) Kunth, Colocasia mucronata (Lam.) Kunth, Colocasia peregrina (L.) Raf., Colocasia rapiformis (Roxb.) Kunth, Philodendron peregrinum (L.) Kunth, Philodendron punctatum Kunth [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Birah negeri, keladi sebaring [2], keladi sebarang, birah [3]
English Giant taro, giant alocasia, elephant ear [2], large taro, roasting coco [4], Australian cabbage, bg-rooted taro, Indomalayan alocasia, kopeh root, Kuanyin lotus, spoon lily, taro, wild coco, wild taro [3]
China Hai yu [4]
India Aalu, alooka, avantikkanni, baalaraaksha, chara kanda, dudh kachu, gajakarni, hen resau, karanippala, labe, man kachu, mucalam, nankanda, piracai, saruara, tantikarni, ulakkai, varatcempu, viruku, et al. [3]
Indonesia Ababa, bira, birah (Sumatra); sente, bira (Java); biah, sente, wia, mae, mael (Nusa Tenggara); bira, biha, sente, makata, lawira (Sulawesi); mira, hila, kei, kiha, tofeka, wire, wir (Maluku) [4]; mael (Timor) [2]
Thailand Kradaat (Bangkok); kradaat dam (Kanchanaburi); horaa (Songkhla, Yala) [2]; kayah, sawga [3]
Laos Kaph'uk [2]
Myanmar Pein-mohawaya [2]
Philippines Biga (General); bira (Ilokano); badiang (Tagalog, Bisaya) [2]
Cambodia K'da:t haôra:[2]
Vietnam R[as]y, r[as]y [aw]n [2], co vat, da vu, hia hau, khoai sap, ray, ray dai, vat veo [3]
Papua New Guinea Abir, pia, via [2]
France Grande tayove [2]
Hawaii ‘ape [3].

Geographical Distributions

It is unclear where Alocasia macrorrhiza is indigenous. It does not appear to be wild in Malesia, but has been introduced and is often naturalised in the Malesian region and Oceania, and elsewhere in the tropics. Perhaps it should be considered a cultigen. [2]

Botanical Description

A. macrorrhizos is a member of the Araceae family. It is a very large herb that can reach up to 400 cm tall, with erect or decumbent stem. [2]

The leaves are not peltate with a size of 80 cm x 60 cm. The petiole is up to 130 cm long but not mottled. The spadix is 13-20 cm long. [2]


A. macrorrhizos occurs along roadsides, in waste places and gardens, mostly in wet locations at low and medium altitudes. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation.

Plant Part Used

Tuber [5]

Traditional Use

A. macrorrhiza leaves are traditionally used as astringent, styptic and antitumour. The root and leaf is used as rubefacient. A decoction of the leaf and stem is used in a bath for treatment of skin conditions like itching and burns. A poultice of the fresh leaves helps in improving circulation, prevent bursting and reduce pain attributed to varicose veins. The steamed oiled leaves can help relieve rheumatic pains by applied around painful joints overnight. Toasted, powdered leave speed up wound healing. [6][7]

The underground stem of A. macrorrhiza is a common domestic remedy in gout and rheumatism. A formula called manmanda is prepared for treatment of gout, rheumatism and dropsy as follows: 3oz. of powdered rhizome, 6oz. of powdered rice, water and milk 20oz, boiled and given in dose of 1-2 oz. [8]

A. macrorrhiza tuber is used to treat influenza, high fever and malaria, diarrhoea, typhoid fever, rheumatic, pulmonary tuberculosis and tuberculous lymphadenopathy, headache, abscesses, ringworm, leucorrhoea, and venomous bites of snakes, dogs and insects [5]. It can be eaten after being put through a detoxifying process where the oxalate content is eliminated [6]. The process of detoxifying can be apply by soaked the slice of tuber in water for 7 days with the water being changed daily. This is then dried and ready for use [5]. In Hawaii it is used in the treatment of severe burns, acute abdominal pains [9].

A. macrorrhiza rootstock is considered mild laxative and diuretic and been used in inflammations and diseases of the abdomen and spleen [6]. It also has used in the treatment of scorpion sting amongst the Indian traditional practitioners [10][11].

Preclinical Data


Antioxidant activity

It was found that the edible parts of A. macrorrhiza exhibit potent antioxidant activity and this is especially seen in the diethyl ether extract [12]. Another study showed that the hydroalcoholic extract of the leaves showed potent antioxidant activities as demonstrated in various antioxidant models of screening [13].

Antinociceptive & anti-inflammatory activity

Ethanol extract of A. indica leaves possesses potent antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities in a dose dependent manner. This is probably attributed to the antioxidant activities detected in this extract. [14]

Hepatoprotective activity

Hydroalcoholic extracts of A. indica leaves administrated orally was found to effectively inhibit CCl4 and paracetamol induced liver damage. [15]

Trypsin/Chymotrypsin Inhibitor

A. macrorrhiza tuber was found to contain a trypsin/chymotrypsin inhibitor specifically inhibited human trypsin but not human chymotrypsin [16]. The inhibitor was found to be a protein with 184 amino-acid sequence and exist in two dimmers [17].


Alocasin is a protein compound of a molecular mass of 11 kDa was isolated from the tuber of A. macrorrhiza. It has been shown to have anti-fungal activity against Botrytis cinerea and is also active in reducing the activity of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. [18]

Haemagglutinating activity

Alocasin has been found to show weak haemagglutinating activity. [18]

Antitumour activity

A study on the antitumour activities of A. macrorrhiza showed that the inhibitory rate against S180 in mice was 29.38% and those against transplantable human gastroadenitis in nude mice was 51.72%. [19]

Lymphocyte stimulation activity

The lectin of A. macrorrhiza was found to have mitogenic potentials towards human peripheral blood lymphocytes. The lectins were found to be T-cell mitogens and do not indue DNA synthesis in B-enriched lymphocytes. The proliferation kinetic studies showed maximum incorporation on day 3 and the mitogenic response was inhibited by asialofetuin in a dose dependent manner. [20]


The plant is considered toxic. All parts (leaves, stems and tubers) can be injurious. The toxins include raphides of water-insoluble calcium oxalate and sapotoxin (a neurological poison). Clinically the patient will experience burning sensation of the lips and mouth resulting from ingestion. Inflammatory reaction with oedema and blistering ensues. Hoarseness, dysphonia and dysphagia may result. The pain and oedema normally slowly subside without treatment. Analgesic can be given when indicated. There is no danger of systemic oxalate poisoning because Ca oxalate is insoluble. [15]

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

All parts (leaves, stems and tubers). [15]


The toxins include raphides of water-insoluble calcium oxalate and sapotoxin (a neurological poison). [15]

Risk management

Clinically the patient will experience burning sensation of the lips and mouth resulting from ingestion. Inflammatory reaction with oedema and blistering ensues. Hoarseness, dysphonia and dysphagia may result. The pain and oedema normally slowly subside without treatment. [15]

Poisonous clinical findings

Two cases of fatal poisoning following ingestion of the fruit of A. macrorrhiza was reported. The clinical manifestations simulate those of cynogenic glycoside poisoning. [21]

A case of poisoning has been reported due to consumption of raw tuber of A. macrorrhiza. The patient developed both neurological (severe pain and perioral and pharyngeal numbness) and gastrointestinal (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain) symptoms immediately after consuming the tuber. [22]

A case of corneal injury has been reported by A. macrorrhiza in 2006. Diagnosis was established upon the observation of needle-like crystals in the corneal stroma following injury. It was resolved after 3 months with the disappearance of the crystals confirmed by confocal microscopy. [23]

A systemic review of cases of poisoning due to A. macrorrhiza showed that it is attributed to the presence of saptoxin and calcium oxalate which are distributed throughout the plant. The reviewers noted that amongst the 27 studied cases, 1 had skin contact and another eye contact, while 25 cases consumed either the leaf or the tuber, raw or cooked. Amongst the symptoms reported that were injected sore throat together with numbness of the oral cavity. Other symptoms include salivation, dysphonia, abdominal pain, ulcers of the oral cavity, dysphagia, thoracodynia, chest tightness and swollen lips. [24]


Analgesic can be given when indicated. [15]

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of A. macrorrhizos [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Alocasia macrorrhizos (L.) G.Don [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 27]. Available from:
  2. Lemmens RHMJ, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia 12(3): Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers; 2003.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume I A-B. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 185-186.
  4. Hariana HA. 262 Tumbuhan obat dan khasiatnya. Jakarta: Penebar Swadaya, 2013; p. 338.
  5. Hariana HA. Tumbuhan obat dan khasiatnya. Seri Kedua. Jakarta: Niaga Swadaya, 2008; p. 69–71.
  6. Khare CP. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p. 35.
  7. Arvigo R, Ballick M. Rainforest Remedies: One hundred healing herbs of Belize. 2nd revised and expended edition. Twin Lakes, Wisconsin: Lotus Press; 1998. p. 90.
  8. Chopra RN, Chopra IC, Handa KL, Kapur LD. Chopra’s indigenous drugs of India. Kolkata: Academic Publishers, 1958; p. 662.
  9. Kaaiakamanu DM, Akina JK. Hawaiian herbs of medicinal value. Honolulu, Hawaii: University Press of the Pacific, 2003; p. 17.
  10. Nadkarni KM. Dr. K.M. Nadkarni’s Indian materia medica. Volume 2. Mumbai: Popular Parkashan Pvt. Ltd., 2007; p. 73.
  11. Varhana R. Direct uses of medicinal plants and their identification. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2008; p. 23.
  12. Madal P, Misra TK, Singh ID Antioxidant activity in extract of two edible aroids. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010:72(1):105-108.
  13. Mulla WA, Salunkhe VR, Kucherkar SB, Qureshi MN. Free radical scavenging activity of leaves of Alocasia indica (Linn). Indian J Pharm Sci. 2009;71(3):303-307.
  14. Mulla W, Kuchekar S, Thorat V, Chopade A, Kuchekar B. Antioxidant, antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities of ethanolic extracts of leaves of Alocasia indica (Schot.). J Young Pharm. 2010;2(2):137-143.
  15. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Balick MJ.Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. 2nd ed. New York: Springer, 2007; p. 75.
  16. Sumathi S, Pattabiraman TN. Natural plant enzyme inhibitors. V. A trypsin/chymotrypsin inhibitor from Alocasia macrorhiza tuber. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1977 Nov 23; 485(1):167-78.
  17. Argall ME, Bradbury JH, Shaw DC. Amino-acid sequence of a trypsin/chymotrypsin inhibitor from giant taro (Alocasia macrorrhiza). Biochim Biophys Acta. 1994 Feb 16; 1204(2):189-94.
  18. Wang HX, Ng TB. Alocasin, an anti-fungal protein from rhizomes of the giant taro Alocasia macrorrhiza. Protein Expr Purif. 2003 Mar; 28(1):9-14.
  19. Ke Y, Zhou X, Bai Q. Studies on the antitumour effect of Alocasia macrorrhiza. Zhong Yao Cai. 1999;22(5):252-253.
  20. Kamboj SS, Shangary S, Singh J, Kamboj KK, Sandhu RS. New lymphocyte stimulating monocot lectins from family Araceae. Immunol Invest. 1995;24(5):845-855.
  21. Goonasekera CD, Vasanthathilake VW, Ratnatunga N, Seneviratne CA. Is Nai Habarala (Alocasia cucullata) a poisonous plant? Toxicon. 1993;31(6):813-886.
  22. Chan TY, Chan LY, Tam LS, Critchley JA. Neurotoxicity following the ingestion of a Chinese medicinal plant, Alocasia macrorrhiza. Hum Exp Toxicol. 1995 Sep; 14(9):727-728.
  23. Tang EW, Law RW, Lai JS. Corneal injury by wild taro. Clin Experiment Ophthalmol. 2006;34(9):895-896.
  24. Lin TJ, Hung DZ, Hu WH, Yang DY, Wu TC, Deng JF. Calcium oxalate is the main toxic component in clinical presentations of Alocasia macrorrhiza (L) Schott and Endl poisonings. Vet Hum Toxicol. 1998;40(2):93-95.