Re: Amorphophallus titanum at Selby - update
News from Selby Gardens - Amorphophallus titanum update:
After our first A. titanum opening on Thursday evening, May 20, we came back
early the next morning to set up for crowds and to watch this wonderful
specimen in all its glory, fully expanded throughout the day. The spathe
extended to a diameter of 42 inches at maximum expansion and held there
beautifully through the whole day. Huge crowds came to see it and I can't
even begin to imagine the quantities of film that were shot over the next 48
hours. The press and several professional photographers arrived very early
Friday morning so they could set up all their paraphernalia and get the shots
they wanted, then scoot out of the way for the general public. I must add
that it takes a rather large space to display this plant in full flower, and
we had a difficult time finding a suitable location, but somehow it all
worked and I think everyone who viewed the inflorescence came away pretty
satisfied with the experience.
The female flowers were receptive Thursday night, when the odor was most
intense, and through all of the day Friday. The smell had thankfully
diminished from the previous evening, but was still available in a milder
form to tantalize the audience, who fully expected to catch a good whiff. By
the end of the day, the odor had diminished even more, but those with
sensitive noses still commented upon the stink. Waves of odor wafted
throughout the lines waiting to get up into the viewing area. I don't think
anyone complained about not getting a sniff, but those of us who had
experienced the full power on Thursday evening during the opening were all
grateful that the crowds only had the tame version. I think most of the
audience would not have tolerated the maximum dose!
Harry Luther checked the inflorescence periodically throughout the day for
pollen, but nothing appeared until about 9 PM on Friday night. As soon as it
began, pollen streamed out of the male flowers in long filaments and
continued throughthe rest of the evening and into the early morning hours. We
cut a viewing window in the side of the spathe so we could see the pollen
falling out in long sticky strings from the bead-like yellow male flowers.
Apparently some of the female flowers still appeared receptive, but I do not
know if indeed any were pollinated. Quantities of pollen were collected and
are now stored awaiting the second flower.
Saturday morning arrived, and with front page coverage we had throngs waiting
at the gate to enter. By this time, the spathe was starting to fold
upwards...and it continued closing at a sometimes remarkable pace through the
day. The width of the spathe opening diminished at a maximum rate of one inch
every 15-20 minutes at its peak...it was almost like watching the plant open
in reverse, for we had experienced this same rate of movement when the spathe
expanded on Thursday evening. Still, the crowds held and there was
occasionally a few weak gasps of rotten smell that visitors could remark
upon, but nothing like the previous day. Everyone marveled at the jewel-like
flowers visible through the window in the spathe, especially the children. By
9 PM, the spathe width was only 21 inches....reduced in half from the full
expansion. The spathe now stands almost straight up and spathe edges are
looking very dry and weathered, curling under. The spadix has become more
hollow with much thinner walls.
The second inflorescence showed signs of opening last night and we stayed
until about 9:30 to see if anything would happen, but both plants seemed to
be resting. And since we all badly needed rest, everyone finally went home,
but now it is back for another day of excitement as we wait for the next
opening. We all feel as though we are riding (flying) on a wave of euphoria
(perhaps a side effect of inhaling so much of the noxious odor?). It will
soon all be over, and it has been an unforgettable experience.
Next update: pollination.....
811 S. Palm Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34236
phone: (941) 954-1237
fax: (941) 366-9807