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Amorph. titanum seeds at Huntington Botanical Garden

  • To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L <aroid-l@mobot.org>
  • Subject: Amorph. titanum seeds at Huntington Botanical Garden
  • From: SelbyHort@aol.com
  • Date: Sat, 29 Jan 2000 21:28:20 -0600 (CST)

I received a message from Kathy Musial (kmusial@huntington.org) at the 
Huntington Botaniucal Garden in San Marino, California on Monday this week 
and she informed me that the experimental technique they used for selfing 
their Amorhophallus titanum appears to have been successful. Huntington 
flowered their plant back in August, 1999. At the time they mentioned they 
were going to attempt a selfing using a surgical method. Here is a portion of 
what Kathy has reported to me in a message I received this morning:
"Our nursery manager had just told me the infructescence had collapsed, so I 
decided it was time to sample a fruit.  Since then, we sent out a press 
release and the news media have begun to swarm again-must be a slow news 
week, although  we have been getting calls all along from interested folks 
wanting to know if we got any seed, but it was too soon to tell for sure 
until last week.  We'd suspected some success, as some of the fruit within 
John's pollination tags were obviously plumper than the others.  Don't be 
deceived by those pictures I sent you, most of that fruit is empty.  So far 
we've harvested seven seed, some are fat and darker, some skinnier and pale, 
but we're planting it all.  Yes, we use bottom heat for many of our seeds 
anyway, so these have been sown over the heat in the prop house.  There are 
still some plump unharvested fruits, we're doing them one by one as the media 
inquiries continue.  We also unpotted and washed the tuber today too and will 
weigh it this afternoon.  We didn't weigh it when we first got it but Theresa 
(the nursery manager) estimated it at 45 pounds, based on her own lifting 

To do the pollination, we harvested some of the anthers after the spathe 
started to open in the evening, we knew the females would quickly become 
receptive.  John took them home that night and put them in a plastic bag with 
a rotting apple (for the ethylene gas) and placed it on the surface of his 
gas stove (for the warmth from the pilot light).  The idea was to hasten 
pollen maturation.  He later extracted the pollen with dissecting tools and 
put it on the stgmas.  This was done at three different times.  He has a 
written record of everything he did including the chronology, I've got it 
somewhere.  Anyway, as you suggest, we can write this up for Aroideana 
sometime. In the meantime go ahead and post any of this info on the aroid 
listserver if you want."
I don't know if I will be allowed to post an attached image to this newslist, 
but if one of the moderators will contact me I can see about getting that 
picture out to you somehow. The infructescence was pretty impressive. I don't 
know if Huntington will be posting something on their web site about this 
soon, but you can check at: www.huntington.org

Has anyone ever been successful at selfing this species before? I am very 
curious about the techniques they used and I wonder if this has been 
attempted for any Araceae.

Thought the group might like to hear about this. I found it fascinating that 
something like this would work.

Donna Atwood
Selby Gardens

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