Question: Are There Different Types Of Taro Root

March 9, 2010
i recently tried to make kulolo and after getting the taro root home and peeling it , it was white inside not brown like i'm use to seeing poi , needless to say my kulolo didn't come out right and hours of work ended up in the can anybody please tell me if there is 2 different types of taro?


Chris Paulk's picture

Not only are there multiple varieties of Taro, but they are grown all over the world. Satoimo, the variety grown in Japan, is whiter than the variety you are familiar with. Other varieties come from India, West Africa, Vietnam, Turkey, Spain, South Korea, West Indies ect.

Sonia R. Martinez's picture

As Chris mentions above there are many varieties of taro. You probably could have made the kulolo with the variety you were using... even if the color was a bit different, the texture and taste would have been similar if not the same. By the way, the taro I use makes the poi look sort of grayish-lavender not brown.

Cyndi Anderson's picture


Sonia R. Martinez's picture

Aloha Cyndi
I'm not sure which variety I buy....there are at least 87 different ones grown here in Hawaii!!! - I just buy it at KTA in Hilo.
Will have to check back with someone that knows more about taro than I do.
BTW, there is a Yahoo group called Taro & Ti and many of the members are growing taro on the mainland.... Where are you?

Sonia R. Martinez's picture

Cyndi, here is the reply I received from Craig Walsh who owned "The Poi Company" in Oahu for several years. He also mentions and links to an article I wrote about poi in 2002.

Hi, Sonia –

Your article is still very much on the Poi website:
It’s had 2,632 “hits” to date.

There are over 250 varieties of taro. In Kauai they actually have almost a taro “collection,” where they grow as many different species as possible in a large field.

The purple poi comes from a variety called lehua maoli – but this description is, of course, meaningless outside of Hawaii. As you know, most people cook taro a bit like potatoes: the Hawaiians are the only folks who make a paste. Most taro is cultivated dry land style, and will make lousy poi: white and bland, or brown and bitter.

The only place where we found the right taro for poi is Hawaii. We were able to export lehua maloi huli to Honduras and they grew the lehua taro for us wetland style. It tasted OK, but the differences in water and soil were evident in the flavour. We found some lovely yellow taro in Vanuatu that made delicious (and exciting) poi. We found taro in Thailand that made passable poi.

But if someone wants to make poi like in Hawaii they are essentially out-of-luck unless they purchase taro from a taro farmer in Hawaii.

Care to write another article for the poi website?

Kind regards,


Rey Xerxes A. Dizon's picture

There are many Varieties Of Taro but I think Only two Spicies of Taro are Edible, One is Very large they say As tall as a Palm, but I use the smaller One that Grows by the pond..
Here in the Philippines There are two appearances of one Variety of Taro
The one is White Taro (puting Gabi in Filipino language) and the Red Taro (Pulang Gabi). No part of the Plant Get Wasted, everything is used in cooking Specially the Root, But here in the Philippines the most popular Dish using Taro is the Laing/ Ginataang Gabi, In english both translated as Taro leaves With coconut milk, the leaves and Stem of this plan is Highly toxic that makes your mouth irritate badly, so there is a technique to Remove or reduce the toxicity of the plant to make it much Edible, but the root is less or sometimes has no Toxic that do not have to do the technique used to the leaves and Stem.

Jerry Ferro's picture

There are indeed many varieties of Kalo or Taro and much of it is edible. You can
take your choice after doing your investigation as to what type you will pretty
much stay with. The investigation can be indepth and you can avoid some of the
crises of "not knowing" such as what Rey mentions above. The type I raise
and use can be toxic (very) if it is not cooked well enough or eaten close to raw.
Don't attempt to eat raw kalo or taro...don't take the chance cause the consequence can be painful and fearful.

I raise a type named Bong Long or in pidgen "Pake" or Chinese taro. The leaves
at any age are very good cooked either in Laulau form or as a cooked spinich form
or cooked and then processed as a soup and there are many ways of doing that.

I love the poi because it is naturally sweet and not bland like the poi I was raised
on which was the Lehua, wetland type...tasteless except when Shoyu is added
or tart; the 3 day old variety. Pake poi is very tasty and makes great baby food.
The color is light lavender not grey and if you like 3 day old poi it will do that
very favorably also.

I have added the poi into the soup base instead of heavy cream as taught me
by a friend and that is very good also. Of course adding the taro into the laulau
instead of sweet potato or along with sweet potato makes your laulaus a winner.

I'm using the adolescent leaves now for laulaus rather than the elder leaves. I find
no difference in taste only texture and still It isn't a big deal.

I have used the "huli" stem as a cooked vegetable and that is good however
cooking it as long as the leave (3 hours + neutralizes the toxins) makes it mushy
soft...I will experiment further as eating the huli isn't usual for me...just another
vegetable I don't have to purchase.

A Hui Ho.

trent lopez's picture

I have been looking for a big taro roots that grows in the Philippines, we call them linsa and bungkukan if i spelled them write, anyway i live in US anyone could tell me the english words for these taro roots i am looking for. Thanks.