Taranakite is a hydrated alkali phosphate mineral with chemical formula (K 3+)5(PO4 It forms from the reaction of clay minerals or aluminous rocks with solutions enriched in phosphate or, less commonly, from bones or other organic matter. Taranakite is most commonly found in humid, bat inhabited caves near the boundary of guano layers with the cave surface. It is also found in perennially wet coastal locations that have been occupied by bird colonies. The type location , and its namesake, the Sugar Loaf Islands, is an example of a coastal occurrence.
Taranakite forms small white, pale yellow, or gray crystals, which are typically found in pulverulent nodular aggregates, or crusts. Taranakite crystallizes in the hexagonal system, and is noted as having the longest crystallographic axis of any known mineral: the c -axis of the taranakite unit cell is 9.505 nanometers