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[Aroid-l] Am. titanum 'ghost' and titanum seedling questions

  • Subject: [Aroid-l] Am. titanum 'ghost' and titanum seedling questions
  • From: Paul Tyerman ptyerman@ozemail.com.au
  • Date: Mon, 13 Jun 2005 13:29:58 +1000

At 07:50  13/06/05, you wrote:
My limited experience is also with other genera, and is exactly as George
described - 1 or perhaps 2 seasons of decline and then disappearance. My very

Steve et al,

Until a couple of years ago I would have agreed with you completely.  I have had no white seedlings appear so I cannot comment on Aroids but my understanding was always that no green = chlorophyll = no future! <grin> 

A few years ago however I had an experience that shows this is not always the case.  I sowed 6 seedlings of a rather uncommon plant called Rigidella orthantha (family Iridaceae) and every one of them shot pure white shoots.  I asked on one of the bulb lists and was told that there was little hope of there being any future for them so I didn't hope much for any return.  They grew for a few months but at no time was there even a suggestion of green as far as I could tell, so when they died down I expected that to be the end of those seedlings. 

I was somewhat surprised the following year when green growth appeared in the pots.  I had had 6 white shoots from the 6 seeds the first year but I had 11 (or was it twelve?) green shoots appear in the pot the following season.  They were perfectly normal green and have grown quite happily since then, which I can't explain at all given the experiences of most people with no chlorophyll in germinated seedlings.  Not only had they returned but as far as I can tell they multiplied during their first growing season as well.  I do not understand how this is possible given the lack of chlorophyll but obviously there was some food being produced somewhere in the process, enough to form 2 bulbs for each shoot.  Rigidella seed are quite small as well, so I think it is unlikely that food reserves in the seed could have contributed much in the way of oomph to the new seedlings.

I've contributed this story a couple of times to discussions on white seedlings over the last couple of years (sorry if some of you are reading this account for a second time) and no-one seems to be able to explain why my seedlings not only returned, but seemed to have enough food to produce more than a single bulb during the season without greenery.  It has me completely stumped!!  It goes to show that there obviously must be an at least limited food production in some all-white seedlings, so it is at least a limited possibility that the 'ghost' titanum may return for a second season?

While discussing titanum seedlings can I ask what the expected leaf production habits of titanum are when young?  I know that some of the Amorphs produce leaf after leaf while young and tend to grow quite rapidly as a result, while others only produce a single leaf and stick with that until their first dormancy.  I was expecting that my titanum seedlings would most likely be of the latter variety, only producing the single leaf before their first dormancy, but one of the seedlings I have is currently sending up a second leaf beside the first.  They are a good few months old now and it only seems to be one of them doing this, but it is still a surprise to me. 

Should I be expecting that the rest of the seedlings will do this as well, and if so does that mean that the titanum seedling will effectively grow continuously for a number of years before it goes into it's first dormancy?  I am aware that apparently the approximately 18 month leaf growth-span of a mature titanum seems to produce enough food to initiate a flowering before the next leaf appears, but does that mean that the seedlings continue as evergreens until they are large enough to produce their first flowers? Or is there a continuous growth just until it reaches a size large enough to survive a dormancy and then it enters into the up to 18 month leaf phase until it reaches flowering size?  Or is it just unusual for them to send up a second leaf while young and my seedlings is just a freak? <grin> I have tried to look for this sort of information on the Net, but if it is there then I am obviously not using the right search words to find it. 

Thanks for any information anyone can provide..... I would just like to know what to expect from my titanum seedlings.

I must also now apologise if there is a delay in my responding to any answers to my questions.  I am battling ill health at the moment (my darn Chronic Fatigue again) and my use of the computer is somewhat intermittent at the present time.  I just want to make sure that people who take the time to answer my questions do not think I am being ungrateful by being silent..... it is more likely that I am just not on the computer for a while.

Thanks again in anticipation.


Paul Tyerman
Canberra, Australia.  USDA equivalent - Zone 8/9

Growing.... Galanthus, Erythroniums, Fritillarias, Trilliums, Cyclamen, Crocus, Cyrtanthus, Oxalis, Liliums, Hellebores, Aroids, Irises plus just about anything else that doesn't move!!!!!

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