UOG & DOG Researchers Propagate Tissue-Cultured Taro Plants


Guam – Alicja Wiecko of the University of Guam, Western Pacific Tropical Research Center (WPTRC) and Rick Lizama of the Department of Agriculture (DoA) have been propagating tissue-cultured taro plants funded by a USDA-TSTAR grant to make this staple crop available to farmers and backyard gardeners on Guam.


From their stock they provided taro for the Department of Agriculture 9th Annual May Harvest Festival, including leaves for the Golai Hagon Suni (Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk), which drew rave reviews from attendees. “Everybody loved it! They were surprised to discover that the leaves from all the different taro varieties were used to make this traditional island dish,” says Alicjia Wiecko.

Taro (Colocasia) is a delicious alternative to potatoes, bread and rice. It is a rich source of carbohydrates and fiber and considered easier than potatoes to digest due to its high fiber content. The young leaves of the taro plant can also be eaten and are delicious, especially when combined with coconut milk or fish.

There are many taro plants of numerous varieties currently available for purchase at the Department of Agriculture. Call Department of Agriculture at 300-7972/3 for more information.

Taro is planted by inserting the setts (top of the corm and base of the stems) into the ground at a depth of 10-15 cm (4-6”). Allow 60 cm (2 feet) distance between rows. Dry land taro takes 7-9 months to mature. Wetland taro takes 12-15 months to reach maturity.

The taro corm is mature when the plant size starts to decrease and there is some yellowing of the leaves. The corm should be visibly bulging out of the ground at the base of the plant.

It will be worth your while to get your taro plants started so that you can enjoy the health benefits of eating from your own taro patch.

For information on planting and growing taro contact Guam Department of Agriculture at 300-7972/3.

Golai Hagon Suni  

(Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk)

4-6 servings

20 -30 taro leaves

1 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 pieces of turmeric
several garlic cloves (to taste)


Boil 4 cups of water in a 4-quart pan. 
Chop clean washed taro leaves and add to boiling water.

Cook until soft then drain.

Sauté garlic, onions, turmeric in olive oil then add salt, black pepper to taste. 
Add cooked taro leaves and coconut milk. 
Let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add hot pepper if desired.

Simple Taro Root Recipe  
Taro root cooked in coconut milk is also delicious and easy to prepare. Peel and cut the taro into medium-size chunks. 
Sprinkle with salt to taste. 
Put in a pan and cover with coconut milk. 
Cook until soft (about 45 minutes).