Cyrtosperma chamissionis

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Family: Araceae

Common name: swamp taro

Pohnpeian name: mwang

Kosraean name: pasruk

Chuukese name: puna

Yapese name: ?

Location Collected: Likinkel, Kolonia. On the west side of Dahker's residence.

Vegetative Characteristics:


Swamp taro is terrestrial, usually grown in atoll pit gardens and in freshwater swamp or marsh area.

Leaf description:

The swamp taro may reach heights of fifteen (15 ft) to twenty (20 ft). The sweet taro produce huge cordate leaves, with acute tip, entire margin, and cordate base. It is a simple palmate venation, with long and soft petiole growing from the tuber stem.

Stem description: The sweet taro produce tuber stems.

Floral description: A spadix in a spathe.

Micronesian uses:

The swamp taro has traditionally served the Micronesians in many different ways. The leaves are used as food wrapings or plate; whereas, the stem, tuber, is cooked and eaten in many ways. It also serve as a "famine food" in time of food scarcity.

Cultural Usage

Kitti, Pohnpei

Taro is one of the significant plant to the people of pohnpei. It is and herb plant. The taro plant has  a big fruit rooted under ground with big and wide cordate leave shape. This plant is culturaly significant because our ancestors used taro plants in many ways.

The leave of this plant is very important. People of Pohnpei use the leaves for local bakings. The leaves used to cover food that is cook on the ground. Food is cook well when using taro leaves for covering. Small Taro leaves are used for drinking cups. Long time ago people there were no cups and the leaves was their cup that they used that time. Using the the taro leaves makes the water tasty. The wide taro leaves was also used as umbrellas. If rains comes and they do not want ot get wet each person take one leave to cover him from the rain. The big Taro leaves are good because it is wide and very thick. This plant has friut. Taro plant can produce big fruits. The fruits are under ground. The fruit can make different kinds of local delicous food.

Long time ago people also used the leaves for preserving things that is important like oils foods and magic. There was a Pohnpeian story of a couple who are talented in fishing. The father died leaving the mother and their only son. One time the mother and his son were very hungry. The mother told the boy to go and get somthing for them from the ocean. Because the father was good in fishing so as the son. The son went and came back with a big fish. That kind of fish is only for the king to eat. Because the mother and the son were very hungry they ate up the fish and bury up the bones. One time the kings dog go around the island and found the bones. The dog then brought up the bones to the king that really makes the king mad. The king assemble all the people of pohnpei and ask who done that. The mother was so scared that he confessed what they had done. The king give them a great task to bring a pearl from the deepest ocean. The mother went around the island begging for help. Every thing she received from the people she put it in her taro leaves. The mother annointed the son and sent him away.

Years went by , the mother was very old still the son is not yet come back. At that time there was a big whale arise in Madolenihmw. All the men went out to try to kil the whale but can not. When the mother heard about this she immediatly went out to the gigantic whale. She brought the taro leaves and headed to the whale. When the all the men saw her they tried to stop her but she keeo on going. when she finally reach the mouth of the whale she open up the Taro leaves and get the thing out of the taro leave and annoint the mouth of the whale. The mouth of the whale open up and surprisingly the boy jump out with the pearl in his hand.

Once again Taro leaves are important it is used to preserve things.

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