Wild Taro Research Project

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Blogs: 11
images: 2
FAQs: 1
Files: 3
Groups: 1
Location: Japan
Work interests: Crop Wild Relatives (CWR), plant domestication, crop history, biodiversity, ethnobotany
Affiliation/website: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan
Preferred contact method: Any
Preferred contact language(s): English, German
Contact: Dr Peter J. Matthews, Project Leader: pjm [at] minpaku [dot] ac [dot] jp
Favourite publications:
PestNet - Resources and an online community for crop pests and diseases

PestNet is a network that helps people worldwide obtain rapid advice and information on crop protection, including the identification and management of plant pests. It started in 1999. Anyone with an interest in plant protection is welcome to join. PestNet is free to members and is moderated, ensuring that messages are confined to plant protection.

The network was initiated in the Pacific Islands and has much useful information on the pests and diseases of taro (Colocasia esculenta).

Posted in: Resources | 0 comments

East Maui Taro Festival, Hawai'i

By Research Cooperative, 2020-10-06

The taro festivals of Hawaii have been happening for many years.

They are events where local farmers, members of the public, artists, agricultural experts, and many others come together to enjoy the iconic plant of Hawaii, and more than just good food. Taro ("kalo" in the Hawaiian language) has a special status in Hawaii.

The next occasion will be the East Maui Taro Festival on 24th April, 2021. See the details here: https://www.tarofestival.org

Posted in: Meetings | 0 comments

Taro (toran) in Korea

By Research Cooperative, 2020-09-21

Terry Stocker, in an article published online in about 2014, makes some interesting remarks about the role informal street sellers who sell vegetables and other foods on the periphery of commercial markets.

He compares the situation in Mexico and South Korea, and shows photos of "toran" (taro) corms and leaves being sold in Korea.


Many years ago, during a visit to the floating water gardens on Lake Inle in Myanmar, Kyaw Naing and I met a family peeling and drying wild taro petioles for export to Korea. Apparently a Korean visitor had realised that this would be a good product for the Lake residents to export, as the dried petioles of taro are traditionally eaten in Korea.

Posted in: Taro online | 0 comments

Travel in FY 2019

By Research Cooperative, 2020-03-21

In the period from April 2019 to March 2020, the project leader (Matthews) visited Bangladesh, India and Thailand for work related to the project.

In collaboration with Dr Md. Anwar Hossain of Bangladesh Agriculture University (BAU), wild taro samples collected by us in 2018 are now being analysed using the same loci studied in other wild populations surveyed in the Philippines, southern China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

A survey of wild taro populations in and around Bangkok city, in Thailand, was also carried out in collaboration with Dr Duangchai Sookchaloem of Kasetsart University. Leaf samples were collected from across the delta of the Chao Praya river that runs through Bangkok.

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Immature fruiting head of Bangkok wild taro, showing abundant small seeds in each berry

Posted in: Fieldwork | 0 comments

Travel in FY 2018

By Research Cooperative, 2019-04-12
Travel in FY 2018

In FY 2018 year Dr Matthews joined counterparts in Bangladesh, China and Vietnam for expeditions to Sylhet, Yunnan, and Hue vicinity. He was also able to carry out a brief pilot survey of wild taro populations in the Chao Praya delta area of Thailand, in the vicinity of Bangkok city. RA Etsuko Tabuchi and Dr Matthews visited the Ethnobotany Laboratory of Dr Chunlin Long, at Minzu University, and prepared DNA samples for analysis with the help of his students. The sequences obtained for three chloroplast loci (ACE16, ACE26, ACE39) and one nuclear genome locus (PhyC) are now being analysed.

A combined field report for the field surveys in Bangladesh and Thailand is planned (these surveys were supported by a JSPS grant to Tsukuba University in collaboration with Dr K. Watanabe).

Photo: Wild taro on the river bank, Hue city, Vietnam (PJ Matthews and Nguyen Van Dzu)


Posted in: Fieldwork | 0 comments

Travel in FY2017

By Research Cooperative, 2018-04-14

In the period April 2017 to March 2018, PJM was able to visit China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam for fieldwork and research discussions.

The main fieldwork areas were Mekong and Red River deltas, Vietnam, and a transect from Guilin to Guangzhou along a tributary of the Pearl River, China.

Wild taro populations were common in each of these river areas, but in each case there were important differences in ecology and uses. From Guilin to Guangzhou, we may have crossed a northern limit for the natural spread of taro, as it is in this region that the winter frost line marks the boundary between tropical and temperate vegetation zones.

Samples collected will be analysed in collaboration with Dr Nguyen Van Dzu (Department of Ethnobotany, Institute for Ecology and Biological Resources, Hanoi) and Dr Chunlin Long (Ethnobotany Laboratory, Minzu University, Beijing).

Posted in: Fieldwork | 0 comments

Fieldwork reports

By Research Cooperative, 2018-02-03

Fieldwork takes many forms... sometimes it is what we see while on holiday, while visiting another country for a meeting, or while walking near our own home, wherever that may be.  

And sometimes - if we are lucky - it is actual funded fieldwork.

The last kind is best for focused observation in a particular area and time, for an ethnographic, ecological, or other field science study. The other kinds are nevertheless useful, for serendipitous discovery, for thinking, and for discussion.

In this project blog, we can report on all kinds of fieldwork, in relation to the subject of taro, and wild taro especially. Recently (2016-2018), I have travelled in China, India, and Vietnam.

I will say more about these trips as time permits.

Posted in: Fieldwork | 0 comments

Literature research

By Research Cooperative, 2018-02-03
Literature research

Updated: 26th June 2020.

Our project requires the integration of literature across many disciplines.

One way to do this efficiently may be to make the process of literature research public, using the topic focus forums of the Research Cooperative.

Here is my first example. I will add others as time permits:

TOPIC: Gesonula, the taro grasshopper

TOPIC: International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC ). After many years of limited availability, all the past conference volumes are now available for free, online, at the Society website. This a great trove of work on many root crops, including taro.

See: http://www.istrc.org/symposia/

Photo: servings of small taro "child corms" ( ko-imo , two per dish) in the lunchroom of the National Museum of Ethnology, Japan.

Posted in: Literature | 0 comments
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