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Helicodiceros hardiness

  • Subject: Helicodiceros hardiness
  • From: James Waddick <jwaddick@kc.rr.com>
  • Date: Mon, 24 May 2010 19:51:32 -0500

Title: Helicodiceros hardiness
Dear Friends,
        I have reported earlier on my surprised hardiness of Helicodiceros muscivorus, the Dead Horse Arum. I obtained tubers of this species over a decade ago. I have grown it in a large pot in a cool winter greenhouse (frost free) where it has flourished and bloomed once.  I routinely repot it and have sent away dozens of tubers to friends.  This year my potted plant bloomed again, only its second bloom.

        A few years ago - at least 4, but maybe 5  or 6 -  I planted one tuber outdoors in my Zone 5 garden. The site is W. facing and sloped, nearly full sun. The tuber has come up and increased in size since.

        This year, yesterday, it produced a flower from this  tuber. It was a typical flower with an overpowering odor.  It was inundated with house flies.

        I was again surprised that it had not only survived, but has grown in size and now bloomed.

        Just curious about the hardiness, I Goggled this species and saw a couple of listings for USDA Zone 9 and 10, more for zones 7 and 8. We had an unusually long cold winter this year. We often have a mid-winter break with temps up to 50 degrees F  for as long as week, but this year held no respite. We stay quite cold with many days at or below 0 F.

        I am curious if anyone else has tried and succeeded with this species outdoor in similar climates, Zone 5.

        Curiously I had 2 open flowers on Dracunculus vulgaris on the same day (6 more flowers unopened). This species does very well here and blooms routinely in a variety of exposures.

        I see where Dracunculus has a chromosome number of 2N =28, while that of Helicodiceros is 2N=56. Furthermore these species do not grow in nature any location together as far as I can tell. These  chromosome number gives some potential for the production of a triploid hybrid. Anyone know more about this or care to speculate?

        Finally, this leads me to try the 'missing species' Dracunculus canariensis. Does anyone grow this species and have a tuber to spare? Will this prove hardy here, too?

                        Thanks much             Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
     Summer 100F +
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