Caladium, a genns of plants of the order aracece or aroidcce. Spathe convolute, straight; spadix with hermaphrodite flowers, rudimentary below and with sterile appendix; anthers many, 1-celled, opening at the apex by a pore; ovaries many, crowded, free; bicelled, 2-4: ovules in each cell, which are ascending and orthotropous; stigmas terminal, sessile; berries 1-2-celled, few-seeded; seeds angular, with coriaceous testa. Plants with large fleshy rhizome, peltate leaves, and fragrant flowers. The genus is found in the tropical regions of America, but has been introduced elsewhere, so that some species are found throughout the Pacific islands and in tropical Asia and Africa. As an ornamental plant many species of caladium are cultivated under glass, and are distinguished by their beautiful mottled or variegated leaves. The leaves of some species attain a great size and form a characteristic feature of the landscape in tropical swamps. The rhizoma of C. (colocasium) esculentum is a very important article of food. It is cultivated in shallow ponds or tanks, the bottom being carefully dug over and worked to the depth of one or two feet; in this the sprouts or the bases of the leaves are planted, and a few inches of water let on.

The sprouts are set 12 or 18 inches apart according to the variety, and as they grow the depth of water is increased. In a year the crop is ready for use. As the patch is cleared new sprouts are planted, and the whole is seldom cleared oftener than once in six years. The rhizoma is roasted and pounded with water to make the paste called by the Ha-waiians and other Pacific islanders poi, which forms their main food. It contains much starch, and is very nutritious. The leaf stems are also boiled and eaten.

Caladium esculentum.

Caladium esculentum.