Monday

Voodoo Lily

Also known as Amorphophallus konjac. I have managed to get some bulbs in a trade, so this bizzarre additions will be my newest challenge of all plants that I have had the pleasure to grow so far.
The images are borrowed from the Institut for Plant Biology Technical Univerity of Braunschweig, Germany and Botanical Garden Bonn, Germany

Amorphophallus. konjac, formerly known as A. rivieri is perhaps the hardiest species, taking winters in zone 6, according to some sources, though I can't confirm below zone 8. It is an intriguing plant even without the bloom, with its large
leaves and leopard-spotted stem. Same bad but short-lived odor as the other plants in this genus.

The Dictionary of Plant Names says that the Greek amorphos means deformed, and, well, you know what the rest of the name means. The Dictionary also says that the name refers to the shape of the tubers. Amorphophallus is a genus of 90-100 species of mostly warm-weather perennials, distinguished by extremely large "flowers".


One member of the genus, Amorphophallus titanum (or also Corpse Flower), has the largest inflorescence on any plant, and usually rates a newspaper article when it blooms in captivity. (No, I don't have one of those, yikes)
Because it takes a lot of energy to produce such a large inflorescence, Amorphophallus doesn't bloom until the tuber reaches a certain size, and then may take more than a year between blooms, or even foliage production. These plants have a long dormant period, usually not coming up until June, and dying back in September.
A "Voodoo Lily" that is hardy in zone 8 if planted a foot deep with good drainage. The flower may be 18" tall, and is quite colorful, with a spathe that is mottled on the outside and rich crimson/pink on the inside, with a cream-colored spadix. The foliage is also very striking, with attractively segmented leaves on a green-mottled petiole that should reach 3' or more in a shaded location with lots of compost. The flower stinks for a few hours shortly after opening, then stops. (Maybe it will keep the nonstop barking dogs of my neighbor in check?).

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