Despite having a reference to the Amazon in its name, Alocasia amazonica has no links with the Amazon or South America. It is a hybrid plant that has never grown wild in the rainforest and its name is thought to have been coined by Salvadore Mauro. Mauro was a nursery owner in America in the 1950s and named Alocasia amazonica after his business ‘Amazon Nursery’. It is known as the elephant’s ear plant or sometimes the African mask plant; both names derived from the shape of the leaves.
Alocasia amazonica has leaves that are dark green with contrasting white or pale green veins, with a shape similar to an elephant’s ear. The flowers in part consist of modified leaves called spathes, which is a leaf-like bract that encloses a flower cluster. These flowers may also be followed by red berries.
Alocasia amazonica originates from Asia and China. It is a hybrid of Asian rainforest plants and so needs humid warm conditions to flourish.
This plant is not naturally occurring and being a hybrid, many are sterile. If it does flower then it can flower throughout the year in the UK as a houseplant. New plants are created for selling by cloning in labs and it is also possible to split a healthy, mature specimen.
As a hybrid this plant does not have an officially accepted species name, although it is accepted as a member of the Arum lily family.
Being a descendant of rainforest plants Alocasia amazonica grows best in humid conditions. You can create rainforest style compost for it with peat and orchid bark and it will grow well in aerated, well-drained soil. You must keep the soil damp during the growing season without soaking too much as rot can occur and only water with distilled water. Mist the leaves regularly to keep the humidity up. Feed every two weeks or so during the growing season but not at all during dormant periods. It does not enjoy bright sunlight and can grow quickly, needing yearly re-potting.
Did You Know?
Despite the claims of some sellers, this plant has never been seen growing naturally in the rainforests of Asia or the Amazon; it is an artificially created hybrid.