Family • Araceae - Cyrtosperma merkusii (Hassk.) Schott. - SWAMP TARO

Scientific names

Cyrtosperma merkusii (Hassk.) Schott.
Cyrtosperma chamissonis (Schott) Merr.
Cyrtosperma lasioides
Cyrtosperma griffithii Merr.
Lasia merkusii Hassk.

Common names

Galiang (Bik.)
Palau (C. Bis.)
Palauan (S. L. Bis., P. Bis.)
Gallan (Engl.)
Giant swamp tao (Engl.)
Swamp taro (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

FIJI: Via, Viakana.
FRENCH: Taro géant des marais, Taro des atolls.
FRENCH POLYNESIA: ‘apeveo, Taa faa.
MALAY: Geli geli.
MARHSALL ISLANDS: Buroro, Kaliklik, Iaraj, Iaratz, Iarej, Wan.
PALAU: Brak.
TAHITI: Moata, Maota.
TONGA: Pula’a.

Palauan has the habit of Alocasia macrorrhiza, a large plant with a very stout trunk, growing in dense clumps, . Leaves are very big, hastate, up to 1.5 meters in length. Petioles are large and stout, up to 2.5 meters long and 10 centimeters in diameter. Spathe is 30 to 60 centimeters long and oblong. Spadix is cylindric, about 15 centimeters long, 2 to 3 centimeters wide. Seeds are globose and about 5 millimeters wide.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Pulaka / Cyrtosperma merkusii / Swamp taro / Wikipedia

(2) Swamp Taro / (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) / Common names / Harley I. Manner / Specialty Crops for Pacific Island Agroforestry


– In ravines along streams in Luzon (Sorsogon), Mindoro, Samar, Leyte, Palawan and Mindanao.
– In some regions planted for its edible corms or as an ornamental.
– Occurs in Java and Borneo to New Guinea.

– Contains 62.61% moisture, 1.05% ash, 0.81% protein, 0.09% fat (ether extract), 33.87% carbohydrate, and 1.57% crude fiber providing 1,430 calories per kilo.
– Study reports the rootstock to contain 0.5% starch.
– Yellow-fleshed cultivars yielded high carotenoid concentrations, substantial amounts of zinc, iron and calcium.

– Emmenagogue, ecbolic.

Parts used



Edibility / Nutrition
– Large rootstocks are eaten when food is scarce.
– In the Pacific atoll islands, it is the most important staple food.
– Peeled and chopped stalks used in soups.
– Roots require hours of cooking to reduce toxicity in the corms.
– As a staple food it is an important source of carbohydrates. Although rich in carbohydrates, it is poor in other constituents.

– Of limited medicinal use in the Philippines.
– Decoction of spadix used as emmenagogue and ecbolic.
– In Kirbati, Catala, yellow mold from sliced and sundried corms used to tret skin infections.

Study Findings
• Comparative Study of Alcohol Yield of Acid Hydrolyzates: Study evaluated the potential alcohol yields from the acid hydrolysis of corms of three araceae plants: gabi (colocasia eculenta) 35.90%,palauan (Cystrosperma merkusii) 21.93%, and San Fernando (Xanthoma sagittifolium) 26.73%. There were no significant differences in the theoretical alcohol yield. Results suggest a potential of utilizing the three plant types for alcohol production.