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Re: Typical seed count of Amorphophallus titanum

  • To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L <aroid-l@mobot.org>
  • Subject: Re: Typical seed count of Amorphophallus titanum
  • From: SelbyHort@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 23:22:54 -0500 (CDT)

This is to answer Jack's questions about pollinating Amorphophallus titanum.
Probably some of this is repeated information so those who have heard
already, please forgive me saying this again.

A. titanum can't really be self pollinated without employing some unusual
treatments. Self-pollination does not occur in the wild. Huntington removed
immature pollen. They then tried various means to ripen it to pollinate their
plant. You can check out their web site for more details. There is a link on
the IAS web "Links" page for Huntington. A similar technique was also
attempted at Longwood Gardens back in 1961. They only got 2 immature seeds
because their infructescence rotted before the seed matured. Also I believe
that a self-pollination technique may have been attemtped even earlier at
Bonn back in 1937. I am not fluent enough to read all the german on their web
site, but I think this is mentioned in the text there (sure would be nice if
someone could translate this).

Yes, we had two inflorescences at Selby last year and they bloomed only four
days apart. We collected pollen from the first plant and stored it just in a
brown paper bag at air conditioned room temperature, then applied the pollen
to the second inflor. The females are receptive before the male flowers shed
pollen, so this is procedure for traditional hand pollination. First you must
obtain the pollen, then you need another inflor that is blooming at least a
day or two later so you can pollinate at just the right time when stigmas are

I don't know how long polllen can be stored, but I think some has been frozen
for about three weeks and used at Bonn for their 1996 seeds. Some pollen was
deep frozen, some frozen in a regular refirgerator, some just refrigerated
and other pollen was left at room temperature and dry. They also got some
fresh pollen from another plant at Palmengarten that happened to be flowering
about the same time. Bonn reported no relation to pollen origin and
germination. So I guess it is possible to store pollen at least for short
periods of time. I have no idea what is the maximum time one can store this
pollen. It will be interesting to see if Fullerton's plant will produce seeds
from Huntington's frozen pollen (stored for almost one year). Maybe others
who have tried this will comment.

There really haven't been that many Amorph. titanum in cultivation until
recently. Now that we seem to have lots of these plants around people feel
more free to experiment with different pollination or propagation techniques.
There is still much to learn. Bjoern Malkmus mentioned a "torture" method for
obtaining A. titanum offsets. Craig Allen at Fairchild has also documented
tuber offsets in plants that are underpotted. These techniques may not
guarantee success but it is certainly worth a try if you have plants to spare
and don't have to fret about losing your only one! Perhaps there are other
interesting stories out there we have not heard yet.

Donna Atwood

 >Huntington did get seed via an unusual self pollination procedure.

  From what little I could gather from the greenhouse magazine, self
 pollination methods have not worked very well in the past?

 >We did have about 200 or so berries at Selby, but not all the fruits
 >contained seeds. We got about 80 seeds in all.  Some berries contained
 >two seeds but many contained only one. However, most of the seeds
 >even the very small ones that I thought might not be viable.

 And this was from a hand pollination method?  You took pollen from one
 flower and placed it on the flower of the other plant?

 >Very seldom have seeds been obtained in cultivation.

 >Pollination has been attempted recently at Cal State
 >Fullerton using pollen stored from the Huntington flowering of 1999. Don't
 >know yet if they have been successful.

 So, mostly, folks don't store pollen in the 'frig and pollinate a flower a
 few months or years later?

 When I played with Victoria waterlilies, I was told that about 72 hours was
 the limit for stored pollen.  I was able to push that out to about two
 weeks.  But my dream of storing pollen in the frig all winter and having
 viable pollen in the spring never happened.  None of the flowers took this
 old pollen.  I kept thinking that I needed that magic temperature to store
 pollen, but I never found it.  About the time I moved on to something else,
 I read about storing seeds in liquid nitrogen.  I wondered about long term
 storage of pollen this way......

 >Don't think its a good idea to "divide" the A. titanum tubers although there
 >are rare times when the tubers may offset in cultivation.

 OK.  Good information.  Can you force tubers to offset by growing them in a
 small pot and over feeding the plant?

 >The only way to
 >reliably propagate this plant is via seed.

 OK.  Got it.

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