Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Amorphophallus Update, July 1

59.5 inches (151 cm) tall this morning, which is three inches taller than yesterday.

Aside from a slowdown in the rate of growth, another indication that flowering is not far off in A. titanum is the development of reddish coloration on the inside (adaxial side) of the spathe. In the closeup photo, you can see some purple/red coloration where the frills at the edge of the spathe have curled over. I first noticed a little color in the spathe yesterday, and it's more obvious today. Things are looking good for a bloom early next week.

The spathe, by the way, is an often petal-like leaf that subtends the rest of the inflorescence in members of the Araceae (the Jack-in-the-Pulpit or aroid family), to which Amorphophallus belongs. As with other aroids, the "flower" of the Corpse Flower is really a highly modified flowering shoot, or inflorescence, comprising the spathe, a modified stem called the spadix (the part that puts the phallus in Amorphophallus), and numerous small male and female flowers hidden inside the spathe at the base of the spadix. The spathe/spadix structure in A. titanum does look very much like a single flower, and functions like a single flower to attract pollinators, so even a plant morphology nerd like myself doesn't have too many issues with just calling the thing a flower. If you want to get technical about it, though, A. titanum has the largest compact flower-like inflorescence in the plant kingdom. The largest simple blooms occur in a totally unrelated genus of Southeast Asian carrion flowers: Rafflesia.

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