This Colocasia Esculenta mural, created by Danny Fry in 2020, shows colorful elephant ear plants. This plant, referred to as taro or kalo, is common in Hawaii, where Danny grew up.
The colorful leaves of this mural represent the mix of people here in Bend, Oregon. Many people move here from other locations, and this mural reflects that growth in a positive light. For example, Bend hosts several thriving restaurants and businesses run by Hawaiians.
In the early 1800s, Hawaiians in Oregon worked as laborers, sailors, and in the fur trade. I described their history in Aloha Owyhee! Oregonians generally called them Kanaka, the Hawaiian word for human being.
The taro plants shown in the mural have been an important part of Hawaiian culture for centuries. Taro, scientific name Colocasia esculenta, is used in creating poi, a local delicacy. Traditionally, taro roots cooked many hours in underground ovens. Natives pounded the roots on wooden boards with stone mortars. The finished product has a pudding-like consistency. Poi tastes sweet if eaten right away or sour if allowed to ferment.