Alōklōk (Xanthosoma sagittifolium - Araceae)

Description: This large herb has big, thick, shiny, more or less arrowhead-shaped leaves. The stems are long and grooved on the underside. Alōklōk is an aroid "root crop" plant that resembles taro; in fact it is related to three other food-producing aroid plants found in the Marshall Islands. There are iaraj (Cyrtosperma chamissonis), kōtak (Colocasia esculenta), and wōt (Alocasia macrorrhiza).

Distribution: Alōklōk is native to South America, where it is called "yautia." It is one of the world's oldest root crops and is said to have first been brought to the Marshall Islands during the Japanese administration. There are about 40 species in the genus Xanthosoma, but only three species (including alōklōk) are important food crops in their native home in tropical America. Different varieties of this plant have been introduced to the Marshall Islands, but only within the last century or so. Some Marshallese also know this ariod, edible crop plant as wōt awia

Uses: Alōklōk can provide food and is occasionally grown as an ornamental plant. Some varieties are cultivated in the Marshall Islands for their edible starchy roots. The main "root" (corm) of this plant is usually too bitter to be eaten, but the lateral tubers growing out of the main corm are eaten, and the young leaves and leaf stems can be eaten as greens or vegetables, if cooked long enough to remove the bitter taste. Wōt-waan is one such variety, but it is almost inedible and not used under normal circumstances. It may be eaten with special preparation in times of famine. Wōtin-Kapilōñ is another variety of alōklōk which was brought to the Marshall Islands from the Caroline Islands (Kapilōñ means the West or the Carolines). Wōtin-Ruk is another variety of alōklōk found today in the Marshall Islands. It was brought from Chuuk and is quite edible.

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