Taioba is the leaf of tannia (Xanthosoma sagittifolium). This plant is originally from South America and is very similar in growth and appearance to taro (Colocasia esculenta) which is from Southeast Asia. The tubers of this tropical plant belong to the family Aracea. Both crops are grown for their root-like corms and cormels that are staples in most of the tropics and subtropics. They have many names, including malanga, yautia, ocumo criollo and cocoyam. With the colonization of the Americas after Columbus, Xanthosoma sagittifolium is now the largest producer. Taioba is not widely available in the US at the present time, but is grown in some home gardens.
Taioba is used as a leafy green similar to spinach. In fact, spinach is used as a substitute when taioba is not available. The leaves are usually cooked to eliminate calcium oxalate, an irritant.
Taioba is popular in several states in Southeastern Brazil and it is unknown in other parts of the country.
In trials at the University of Massachusetts, corms were obtained from Brazil, forced in the greenhouse to produce transplants that were put into the field after danger of frost. Row spacing was one foot in the row, staggered for more space, 6 foot on center. Black plastic was used with drip irrigation. Taioba can tolerate shade, but it should be grown in full sun in order to get maximum yield in the Northeastern US.
Click here to see a video in Portuguese on how to grow taioba in a garden in New England.
Post-Harvest Seed Handling
Based on research at the University of Massachusetts, good quality of taioba can be maintained for up to 10 days when kept at 50° F in a polyethylene bag. Taioba leaves not stored in plastic at room temperature will loose quality in 3 days, mainly due to the loss of water.
The most common way to propagate this crop in the developing world is by using parts of the central corm with three or four buds.