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Amorphophallus gigas update 6/3/99

The following is an update on the flowering of the
Amorphophallus gigas at Fairchild Tropical Garden. I
had visited the Chelsea Flower Show in London from May
23rd, and was afraid that I was going to miss the A.
gigas flowering. 

Monday 5/31/99
.Came by the Garden after my trip to London to see
the Amorphophallus gigas (plant #C) in bloom. I had
watched the FTG web site updates(http://www.ftg.org/)
and knew that it had opened. Reports from staff tell
me that it started releasing a powerful putrid odor on
Friday, May 28th and opened fully by Saturday, May
29th. The spathe had loosened up a little even before
I left on the 23rd. Now the inflorescence had grown to
132" tall. The tuber that produced this bloom weighed
only 4.5 lbs. One staff person said it smelled like a
herd of rodents trapped in your wall. There were a
number of news media that photographed it. There were
hords of flies gathered on the outside of the screen
above the the spadix. Even today, its fourth day of
bloom, it is periodically producing a strong odor. I
didn't smell it when I came in to first see it, but
when I climbed a ladder to get a close look, it
"passed wind"! The smell nearly knocked me off. Boy,
what a dramatic sight. In some ways this is more
exotic than the famous A. titanum, but it did not
generate that much public excitement even though it
has been on TV 7 or 8 times. There were hardly any
telephone calls.

. Suprise !!! XXX !!!, there is a second plant of A.
gigas (plant #E) coming into flower. It is a much
smaller plant than the first. Today it as 63" tall.
The tuber was under 3 lbs. when potted a few weeks
ago. When I left for London last week, it looked like
a leaf developing. I wasn't expecting another bloom.
Neither plant had the tight bract around the emerging
inflorescence that was so distinctive on the A.

One thing I did miss on the trip was a smaller
flowered species they told me smelled like lemons, and
two blooms of Amorphophallus bulbifer that were a
beautiful rich pink color.

The Amorphophallus season is like a three ring circus,
lots of fun...

Tuesday 6/1/99
.plant #C = 132" spathe beginning to loose color.
Still releasing odor periodically. 25% of spadix top
still very glossy, but uneven. Could this be the oil
that produces the odor. Julia visited it today when it
smelled very strong, and she said the odor was evident
on her clothing even after she got back to her office.
.plant #E = 69" The growing inflorescence was very
bent over looking at noon, but by 5 PM it had grown
straight again.

Wednesday 6/2/99
.plant #C = 132" spathe starting to fold up and
spadix has lost all of the gloss. The top looking like
it is beginning to shrivel.
.plant #E = 76" spadix showing for the first time,
moved the plant away from #C in the event that #C
collapses. I noticed that the emerging spadix is a
deep reddish color on this plant, where #C was a
darker reddish chocolate at least when I first
compared them this morning.

Thursday 6/3/99
.plant #C = 132" spathe folded a little more. Top
shriveled more.
.plant #E = 86", spadix showing more and the spathe
is relaxing a little at the forward upper edge.

I have decided that the second inflorescence will be
harvested when the female flowers mature. A number of
herbarium specimens will be made and distributed to a
number of institutions.

Craig M. Allen
Conservatory Manager 'Windows to the Tropics'
Fairchild Tropical Garden
10901 Old Cutler Road
Miami, Florida 33156
Tel. 305-667-1651 ext. 3320   FAX 305-661-8953
email: cm_allen@yahoo.com
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