Monday, February 14, 2011

Don't Taste the Rainbow

Amorphophallus bulbifer is ripening a lot of fruit this year, at the UConn EEB greenhouses. In spite of appearances, and the fact that birds or some other animal disperser probably eats them, it would probably be a bad idea for a person to sample these berries. Amorphophallus is an aroid (family Araceae), a group known for being toxic to humans. In many aroids, all parts of the plant contain microscopic calcium oxalate crystals, which irritate the lining of the mouth and throat, causing intense pain and swelling that can be life-threatening if the airway becomes constricted. In some aroids and for some people, the crystals can even cause pain and rashes on the skin of hands exposed to sap from cut plant parts.


Julie said...

WOW...this is amazing! Makes me think of a candy sugar stick! Rainbow, of course!!! I really do think it would tempt small children to give it a taste!

Matt said...

I've seen fruit on this plant before, but never such a spectacular display. It probably wouldn't be a good houseplant to have around young children!