So you're Looking for an "Elephant Ear" Plant?? Which one?
So what exactly is an Elephant Ear plant anyway?
I often have people do a search on the internet using the term "Elephant Ear" and as a result end up on one of my pages. But this website has more than 350 pages! Most of the time they become aggravated because they can't immediately find the plant they are seeking, and there is a reason. Which plant do you want to know about? What genus is that plant found in? Many of you likely believe the term "Elephant Ear" is a good way to describe plants with large you want to grow in your yard> Sorry, I don't like the name and here is the reason why the term "Elephant Ear" is a near useless common name.
Are you aware there are plant species in quite a few different scientific genera that have managed to garner the common name Elephant Ear"? All are members of the larger plant family known as Araceae or aroids. Elephant ear "plants" can be found in the genera of Alocasia, Xanthosoma, Philodendron, Anthurium, Caladium, Monstera and Colocasia. If you do a search of a scientific database you will learn there are more than 100 genera of aroids with around 3,300 total species. Those seven genera just mentioned contain well over 2,000 of those species! So which one of those 2,000 plus very different plants are you trying to find?
You see, "Elephant Ear" is not a descriptive term nor a good choice as a common name.
If you were to describe your car as a "Chevy" everyone would think you were talking about a Chevrolet. Certainly, that doesn't describe the model, but al least you would be in the correct brand. But if you drive a Mercedes you'd likely be unhappy if someone called it a "Chevy". The term "Elephant Ear" is the same and doesn't even connect the plant you are seeking to a genus!
I know, you are probably seeking a plant with big leaves. OK, which one? There are Anthurium as well as Alocasia species with leaves up to 12 feet (almost 4 meters) long! There are species in the genera Philodendron and Xanthosoma with leaves up to 6 feet (nearly 2 meters) in length but also species that are quite small. There are species in the genus Colocasia and Monstera with leaves that approach 4 feet (1.2 meters) along with species that are very little. And there are plants in the genus Caladium with moderately large and others with very tiny leaves. You see, the size of the leaf has nothing to do with the genus. So just saying "Elephant Ear" means nothing. Regrettably, nursery sales people use it all the time and despite attempts to get them to stop, the name will persist forever!
So if you are looking for something to grow that resembles the general shape of an elephant's ear, perhaps you'll find it in our list of Alocasia, Xanthosoma, Philodendron, Anthurium, Monstera, Caladium or Colocasia species.
As a term for plants, "Elephant Ear" is very non-descriptive since there are just too many options! But here's a hint. The one in the photo at the top of the page is Alocasia odora, the one to the top right is Colocasia esculenta, the one above left is Anthurium faustomirandae, the one to the right is Monstera deliciosa and the one below is Philodendron edenudatum.
The only species that qualify as having elephant ears also has four legs and a trunk! As a name for plants, "Elephant Ear" really has no descriptive value.
Here are related pages with more detailed plant descriptions and photos that just might be what you are seeking:
I hope you find the one you want!
International Aroid Society: