This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Having the past Spring come into possession of some Caladium bulbs, the growth of which has since proved a source of great satisfaction, I desire to inquire more about this interesting family of plants.
I would like to knew where, and how large they grow in a natural condition, and if the variety which is commonly grown in this country is the Caladium esculentum which is used as an article of food by the natives of South America. The foliage of those now growing in my grounds is enormous, the leaves averaging fully a yard in length, the largest, at this date, September 9th being three feet- nine inches long and two feet seven inches wide. Many of the leaf stalks are six feet long, one of them measuring six feet six inches. Some of them stand nearly straight; others bending over, the leaves touching the lawn. This entire growth has been made since planting in the bed June 1st, and, as they show no inclination to stop growing, I am curious to know how large they would grow in a country of perpetual warmth and moisture.
The bulbs, when given to me last spring, were said to be two and three years old. I should like to hear from others who have grown them, in regard to the size that plants from larger bulbs will attain in this country. I placed some Cannas in the centre of the bed, and they have been pushed to a height of nine and ten feet, and help out the general effect of the bed very much.
Auburn, N. Y.
[The Caladium you describe is the one used for food. It is used in the Southern United States in the same way, where it is known as Tan-Yan. Another plant of the same family - AraceaE - is the Indian Turnip, or Arum triphyllum of our woods. The roots are roasted and eaten in the same manner as is this beautiful species. - Ed. G. M].