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Re: [Aroid-l] Lack of a scent on the Anthurium regale spadix

  • Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Lack of a scent on the Anthurium regale spadix
  • From: "Steve Lucas Exotic Rainforest" <steve@exoticrainforest.com>
  • Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 17:56:29 -0600

Thanks very much.  I've received several private emails with similar trains of thought.  I sent my original query to "Dr." Julius Boos the same day I sent it to Dr. Croat.  Julius has a "way with words".  He answered my question in such detail and so vividly as to totally explode my "theory".  If you've been following my daily photo posts on the spathe and spadix you will see I use comments from Dr. Croat, Julius, LariAnn Garner and others to explain what can be seen each day.  I used a great deal of Julius' response to explain why my "theory" had little value.  Interestingly, Julius also used your "moth" explanation as well.  Oh well, it was a thought!  Thanks for the responses.  If you're interested in reading what Julius and Dr. Croat have been saying about the event, here is the link.  There are now 3 pages of photos of the 35 days of the spathe and spadix.
Steve Lucas
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, January 22, 2007 4:19 PM
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Lack of a scent on the Anthurium regale spadix

Dear Steve,

As an entomologist I will add my ten cents worth.... remember that some insects have quite phenomenal powers of scent detection (some male moths detect females up to a mile away based on just a couple of molecules-worth of scent!) and even though humans can't smell something it doesn't mean it there isn't a strong smell for the insects involved. I once did experiments with dead mice to see how quickly burying beetles which use dead animals for egg laying and a source of food for the hatching larvae would respond. Often within minutes of putting a dead mouse in a woodland beetles would start flying in from all over to lay their eggs. For my nose the mouse was not even beginning to smell but obviously the beetles found them very obviously smelly....

Hope that helps,
Geoffrey Kibby, London, U.K.
p.s on a different topic: my wonderful plant of Synandrospadix has suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed to a spell of cold weather - tragedy!!! If anyone has a tuber they can spare/sell or trade please, please let me know, thanks.

On 19 Jan 2007, at 19:45, Steve Lucas Exotic Rainforest wrote:

I have made an "odd" observation regarding the flowering of my Anthurium regale.  As a result of my observation I'd like to ask anyone else who may also have an Anthurium regale in flower to check the spadix and see if your observations match my own or differ.
Yesterday I asked Dr. Croat about something that appears strange, at least to me.  Anthurium regale is said to be rare in nature yet it can become an enormous plant and the spadix is larger than many aroids I have in my collection.  The plant is capable of producing numerous seeds.  Dr. Croat has prompted me numerous times to check the spadix for a scent.  None has yet been detected and the plant appears to have completed female anthesis.  If anthuriums normally produce a scent on their spadix (as much of the literature suggests) when ready to be pollinated in order to attract insects to inspect these sugary liquids, why is mine not producing a scent?  Since mine has produced no scent after 32 days (I can't smell it, my wife can't smell it, and Steve Marak who visited once could not smell it) and yet I can clearly see the exudate in several photos, especially the the Day 30 photos, is the plant possibly trying to attract a pollinator that is not common or is unusual in some way? 
When tasted the exudate is bitter sweet instead of sweet.  I could taste what I suspect is the oxalate crystals in the liquid.  That made me wonder if  the plant attracts some very limited group of pollinators that seek out this bitter sweet liquid.  But since the number of pollinators it attracts may be small it thus produces only a limited supply of pollinated seeds.  Thus the plant remains less common (rare) in nature.  I realize I have only experienced one spadix on this species and something else may be unusual or missing.  But now I'll be checking for this the next time I get a spadix on the plant.  I also now have a second plant of reasonable size which should produce a spadix within 12 months. 
I'd really like to know if anyone else has experienced a lack of scent or sweet taste in the exudate from their Anthurium regale.  I've received several emails from people who have told me of plants currently in bloom.  I'd really like to learn more about if my "theory" is even possible?
If you'd like to see the documentation so far you can find the photos at:
There are now several pages of photos since placing all of them on a single page makes it impossible for those with a dial-up connection to view.
Steve Lucas
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