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[aroid-l] How does A. titanum do it?

  • Subject: [aroid-l] How does A. titanum do it?
  • From: "Randy Story" story@caltech.edu
  • Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 15:32:34 -0700


The current discussion on Amorphophallus titanum reminded me of a question I
have.  This arose during a conversation with a friend while visiting the
Huntington's blooming A. titanum a few weeks ago and the situation would of
course apply to a lot of other species as well.

If during  blooming the female flowers are only receptive for about a day,
then there must of course be another flower making pollen that is only a day
or two ahead for there to be successful pollination.  My impression was that
A. titanum isn't terribly abundant, plus it blooms only every three years at
best, etc.  So what are the chances that another plant blooms sufficiently
nearby (a couple miles?) at exactly the right time (again within a day or
two) so that a given plant is successfully pollinated?  A related question
is what sort of population density is necessary to keep all of this going?
I assume that this must be a serious concern of botanists/ecologists and
others trying to keep these plants from going extinct.  I'm curious for a
sense as to what the magnitude of the problem is.  Is the situation so
precarious for some species that even fairly minor decreases in population
density and or area of distribution can lead to extinction?  If so, how many
Amorphophallus species have already been lost?

The conclusion of the conversation with my friend was that it seemed rather
odd that a species (or many) had evolved into such a precarious corner!


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