Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's a flower!

Welcome to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory blog! There are many exciting happenings here in the Conservatory! There is a riot of color in the Sunken Garden with blooming lilies, pansies,tulips and daffodils. The tropicals are full of new growth and reaching for the light. And there is a special plant that is slowly and quietly growing in a small greenhouse behind the public areas.

We have been watching our Amorphophallus titanum or corpse flower growing for a few years. We were fortunate to receive two plants from Gustavus Adolphus College in St.Peter, MN in the summer of 2005. They were in 7 gallon pots with a six foot leaf. The plants have been quietly growing and one has now started to form an inflorescence!

These plants were started from seed in 1993 in the Gustavus greenhouses. They have gone through a number of cycles of growth where the large leaf has grown, died down and then a new leaf has formed. In October 2007, one of the pots split and the resulting dormant corm was found to have split into a 25 pound and a 13 pound corm.The corms were transplanted into two large pots.

The largest of the corms started to show signs of growth in January 2008 and the tip began to emerge from the soil on Februay 19, 2008. By March 4, the emerging shoot was 6"tall. Today, it is 23"tall!! Not huge or even big by standards set at other botanical institutions but a great event none the less.

The inflorescence does seem to be a bit unusual in that the spathe does not cover the entire spadix. We can actually see the male and female flowers that are normally entirely covered at this point. So. there is alot of discussion as to what this inflorescence might actually look like in the near future.

So, this small but mighty plant is growing along. Hopefully, we will be able to get a webcam installed in the next few days so that folks can watch this little cutie. Stay tuned!