Coco Yams, Tanna /Xanthosoma Saggitifolia/
Coco Yam is a hardy, herbaceous plant that is native to tropical America.
A large central corm is surrounded by small potato-sized cormels. It has long upright stems and large green heart-shaped leaves. It can reach a height of 1.5-2m.
The stalk is attached to the leaf at its edge rather then in the centre of the leaf. This is one of the ways to differentiate between cocoyam and plants in the Taro /Colocasia family.
Edible parts and usage
Only the smaller side cormels are generally eaten.
These tubers are boiled for 10-15 mins, then mash, puree, or fry as chips. They also make great hash browns when grated and fried.
Leaves should be boiled for 10-15 minutes and the water discarded. Cooked leaves can be used to wrap foods or dressed for a salad.
The stems can be boiled for 10-15 minutes then added to curries or used in an Asian style salad.
All parts of cocoyam must be cooked before eating as the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which cause an irritating reaction to the mouth and throat. This is easily removed by cooking or dehydrating first.
Topical/subtropical. Frost free
Coco Yam can be grown without irrigation, as a rain fed crop as it has much lower water needs then its thirsty cousin Taro.
Grow them both to ensure a crop regardless of rainfall.
They prefer to be grown in deep, mulched, well-drained fertile soil in dappled sunlight and sheltered from wind.
Cocoyam is propagated by the leaf-bearing tops of mature corms.
Slice off the top of a large corm neatly just below the buds and cut back the leaf to a stub. Cut the piece into a couple of growing pieces or “sets” each with at least two buds each.
Plant the sets in Spring/ Summer when rain is expected, spaced about 60cm apart.
Risks and weed potential
Could pose a weed risk so don’t grow near waterways or drains.
Harvesting & Processing
The central corm is not eaten. Cormels can be harvested individually as they mature from the side of the main corm. Harvest when they are about the size of an egg.
They can be stored in a cool dry place for about three months.