Thursday, February 25, 2016

Solving a Big Stink in Ohio

I received a call today about a flower that blooms in the winter and whose foliage grows in the summer. The caller was from Ohio and kept the bulb of the plant inside  (not for the bloom, she stored the bulb inside to protect it from Ohio's cold winters). The problem with the plant is that it blooms when it's being stored inside the caller's house. For most flowers this wouldn't be a problem but her bulb was actually the tuber of flower closely related to the Huntington Gardens' much celebrated corpse flower, Amorphophallus titanum

Amorphophallus konjac is closely related to the Huntington's stinky corpse flower, and although the flower size is smaller, the smell is the same. The caller related to how she had had the plant (it was given to her by her aunt) for years with rarely any blooms and how now it's blooming almost every year.

Amorphophallus are in the same family as peace lilies and Anthurium. They are mostly tropical plants whose flowers arise from bulbs. Here in Southern California a related plant, Dracunculus vulgaris, is an occasional volunteer weed being spread by birds (especially parrots) that eat the plants berry-like fruit. Both the Amorphophallus konjac and the Dracunculus vulgaris have been sold by nurseries in the 70's and 80's as the 'Voodoo Lily', a novelty bulb.

So what do you do if you are storing your Amorphophallus konjac inside your house and it starts to produce its stinky bloom? Well, just cut the bloom off a few inches from the base and throw it away. It shouldn't hurt the plant and it will definitely give your nostrils a breather.

Here is the caller's Konjac flower in full bloom inside of their house. 

Videos that follow an Amorphophallus konjac from bulb to bloom (video plays in a series, just allow the next video to queue after the first is finished and repeat).

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