I was out back trimming this and that near one of my Taro plants. On impulse -- knowing that taro leaves are edible -- I tore off a piece and bit into it.
Do not try this at home.
Wouldn't you know it my half done research missed the little detail that Taro leaves are only edible after being cooked. Raw, you get a dose of calcium oxalate crystals and immediately my tongue began to swell.
Of course I spat out the leaf as soon as a tingling sensation kicked in.Pins and needles like nothing else I've experienced orally.
I'd prefer to visit the dentist.
I rushed inside and Googled first aid and consequence. I was fearing that the swelling could obstruct my airway.
It turns out that raw Taro is a real nasty: see LINK.
Over the last week I had been researching the arsenic habits of Cassava and knew that Cassava growing and preparation should be left to those peoples who embrace it in their traditional culinary culture.
I tell you now that the same should apply to Taro. Raw taro juice can cause skin irritation and be dangerous if it enters the eye. These consequences may occur with pet dogs or cats as well as humans.
The amazing thing was that the sensation in my mouth was immediate. Other plants produce calcium oxalate and if you remember the last kidney stone you passed, humans make it too. Spinach, tomatoes, grapes, sweet potatoes and rhubarb contain it but if you want a real hit just chew on a Taro leaf.
Six hours later, my tongue still feels raw and brutalized.
One bite. One wee bite!
I had poisoned myself.
Ironically I had researched Cassava as I was thinking of introducing it as a traditional Islander vegetable to the school garden but rejected the idea. Taro is bigger around here among folk of Polynesians descent so I think we'll pass on growing that too.
Just stick with our kumera (sweet potato) mound.
Cool! Getting that strong hanging line is the key to it. I'm getting some 35L bags for Strawberries and Tomatoes and will utilise 2 dead wheelbarrows and 2 dead tables to put some of them on. Not hanging but elevated.
Thanks for the imfo Dave and warning us.Im always having a chew on something in the backyard .Its unfortunate the way you found out.I have my taro growing superbly in two pots thanks to Cathie but I will make sure those roots are well and trully cooked.One of our boys cooked up some freshly picked casava though and there was no problems providing it is freshly picked and used within a short time.