Kalo Varieties

Which variety of kalo is the best? The one that's in the bowl on the table. - Jerry Konanui, Hawaiian Mahi‘ai

Use As Food

We have not eaten this variety… yet. Black Magic as a decorative plant.


This variety has spread across the mainland and Hawaii due to its popularity with landscape companies. It is commonly planted around artificial ponds and waterfalls. I have seen it grown as far away as New York's Central Park. Black Magic is sold at Walmart, Lowe’s Hardware Store, and on the internet.

General Characteristics

Three to five feet in height. Black Magic has a thin stem. It reproduces by growing out “runners”; three to four at a time. The leaf is all one shade of a matching color. The corm tends to be small. Its method of using runners to grow new offshoots causes it to spread wide, which may crowd other plants.

Ha (Petiole)

Three to five feet long, dark purple / burgundy down the majority of the stem, then a bright green ring at the kohina (base). Thin, indistinct reddish-brown-color at the stem’s kohina (edge).

Lau or Lu'au(Leaf Blade)

The leaf is sagittate (arrow head shaped). The mature leaf’s color looks charcoal black, deep burgundy, or violet colored. The young leaf can be deep green, but it inks in with black as it matures. This leaf’s piko (center) matches the color of the rest of the leaf. This is a major difference from Uahiapele (24.) whose piko is a different colored bright purple dot.

'I'o kalo (Corm)

The corm has a light greenish skin. It tends to be small in diameter. We have not sliced a sample… yet.

Pua (Flower)


Black Magic is easily confused with Uahiapele variety, # 24,. This variety is different from Uahiapele in the following ways: 1. Black Magic’s leaf is more uniform in color while Uahiapele is splotches of charcoal grey and green mixed in; 2. Black Magic’s piko (center) matches the color of the rest of the leaf while Uahiapele’s piko is a differently colored bright purple dot; 3. Black Magic’s kōhina (base) is bright green, while Uahiapele’s kohina is white; 4. Black Magic's stem is all the same shade of purple. But Uahiapele's Hā (stem) features a distinctly black-purplish edge (lihi), that looks like a stripe. 5. is a Black Magic reproduces by sending out runners (rhizomes) to become keiki, while Uahiapele’s keiki (‘ohā) grow directly from the main corm.