Cyrtosperma merkusii (Hassk.) Schott

Etymology Genus Curved seed; probably referring to the shape of the seed
Species After Pieter Merkus, Governer of Dutch East Indies
Family Araceae
Synonyms Arisacontis chamissonis Schott, Lasia merkusii Hassk., Cyrtosperma lasioides Griff.
Common Names Swamp Taro, Pulaka
Status Native: Vulnerable
Form Herb
Native Distribution Malesia


Cyrtosperma merkusii is an aroid that can be found growing near to and in pristine freshwater habitats like marshlands, streams, and swamps in the Central Catchment and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (Lok & Tan, 2008). It is quite easy to identify it from the arrow-head leaves and prickly leaf stalks. It grows to about 1m tall.

Interesting Facts:

The Swamp Taro used to be cultivated widely for its edible underground corms, similar to the Taro (Colocasia esculenta); and its selected cultivars with smooth petioles can grow up to 6m high (Boos, 2008).

In its native habitat here, it can tolerate both open and deep shade, but with morphological variations (Lok & Tan, 2008). In full sun, it can grow taller to 1.5m and have larger and wider laminas. It also does not flower as frequently in deep shade.

An abundance of Swamp Taro in Nee Soon Swamp Forest.

Form of the plant with its upward pointing arrow-head leaf.

The petioles are covered with sharp prickles.


Boos J. (2008) The Genus Cyrtosperma Griff. International Aroid Society. Accessed on 8-May-2008.
Lok AFSL & HTW Tan. (2008) Status of Cyrtosperma merkusii (Hassk.) Schott (Araceae) in Singapore. Nature in Singapore, 1: 179-182.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2013-05-08 / Modified: 2019-08-27