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Re: A. titanum ???

We once received a huge tuber here at Selby that had been incorrectly labeled
Amorphophallus titanum. This was back in the early 1980's, and the tuber came
of of South Florida. I suspect someone there was distributing lots of A.
paeoniifolius with the name A. titanum around that time. Anyway, this
impressive tuber was planted on the grounds with much fanfair, and there was
even an article printed in Aroideana showing the massive plant in leaf, with
the caption that it was A. titanum (this may be the picture of the leaf that
you are thinking about, Julius). However, once the thing bloomed it was
obviously the wrong species, and if anyone had know, we would have realized
even before flowering that we did not have A. titanum because the petioles
are so different. I have pictures of Mike Madison carefully planting the
tuber, and some later pictures of the inflorescence. It was disppointing to
know that we only had A. paeoniifolius all that time, but one should not
dismiss this species so quickly. Amorph. paeoniifolius makes an impressive
specimen in the S. Florida climate and thrives here, so is a wonderful
addition to our sub-tropical gardens. This species, along with several others
such as A. konjac, A. bulbifer, A. muelleri (once referred to in FL as the
"sweet smelling bulbifer" and still often sold under the name A. bulbifer),
Gonatopus bovinii, etc. will grow quite nicely in the garden, some of them
multiplying to almost become weeds. It would be fun for someone to try more
Amorphophallus species outdoors in Florida gardens to test cold hardiness,
thus expanding our palette of Amorphophallus for outdoor horticulture.

Amorphophallus titanum is just not hardy enought to live outdoors here,
although we still have one plant in our Oak Grove that was planted about 5
years ago. It has dwindled each year and will probably never get large enough
to flower, because it seems to be forced into dormancy each winter, usually
by early December, from cold temperatures. This plant generally has not
resumed growth until late July each year, so there has not been enough
growing time each season each to bulk up the tuber. This plant is now half
the size of the greenhouse grown specimens that were all grown from the same
seed batch.

This winter was an exception, and our A. titanum outdoors did not go dormant
during the brief cold spells. This is the first winter it has survived in
leaf throughout the winter...very surprising since we did have winter
temperatures that periodically reached into the mid 30's F, with one night
right around the holidays that approached freezing.

Donna Atwood
Selby Gardens

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