Amorphophallus, or Voodoo lily – care

Amorphophallus (Amorphophallus) – an unusual and spectacular plant from the Aroid family, grows in tropical and subtropical zones, from West Africa to the Pacific Islands: tropical and southern Africa, Madagascar, China, Japan, Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Andaman Islands, Laos , Cambodia, Myanmar, Nicobar Islands, Thailand, Vietnam, Borneo, Java, Moluccas, Philippines, Malaysia, Sulawesi, Sumatra, New Guinea, Lesser Sunda Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and also in the northern part of Australia.

Exotic amorphophallus is easy enough to grow at home. Farmer Eerika Schulz


Botanical description of the plant

Most species of amorphophallus are endemic. In nature, Amorphophallus grows mainly in secondary forests, it is also found on limestone soil and in weedy places.

These plants come in all sizes, from small to gigantic. They grow from underground tubers. These plants have a dormant period, but some of them are evergreens.

The genus includes over 100 species of perennial unifolia tuberous grasses. The name comes from Greek words amorphos – shapeless, and phallos – phallus, which is associated with the appearance of the cob inflorescence.

From the upper part of the tuber, a single leaf grows (occasionally two or three), which can reach several meters in width. The leaf lasts one growing season, in each next year it grows slightly higher and becomes more dissected than in the previous year.

The amorphophallus inflorescence develops after the next dormancy period until a new leaf appears and is always single. Flowering lasts about 2 weeks. During this time, the size of the Amorphophallus tuber is significantly reduced due to the high consumption of nutrients necessary for the formation of the inflorescence. Female amorphophallus flowers open earlier than male flowers, so self-pollination is rare.

For pollination, it is necessary that at least two plants bloom almost simultaneously (with a difference of 2 – 3 days). If pollination has occurred, then in the place of the flower, an infertility of fleshy berries with seeds is formed, and the mother plant dies. Under room conditions, none of the cultivated species of seeds forms.

After flowering, only one large, deeply dissected leaf is formed, the petiole of which somewhat expands downward and therefore looks more like the trunk of a small palm tree, and the leaf blade – on its crown.

Amorphophallus is easy enough to grow at home, but some buyers, purchasing a plant in a state of vegetation, when the leaf begins to turn yellow and dry out, think that the “palm” is dead. In fact, the plant begins a dormant period that will last 5-6 months, then it will “come to life” again. The key to successful growth is warmth (+ 22 + 25 ° C) and diffused light. In a room, amorphophallus is best placed on the northeast or northwest windows.

Amorphophallus cognac (Amorphophallus konjac)Amorphophallus cognac (Amorphophallus konjac)

Amorphophallus Cognac

Amorphophallus Cognac (A. konjac) in their homeland is also grown as a food plant. Dried peeled tubers taste like sweet potatoes, and shredded ones are used to prepare special oriental dishes. For example, in traditional Japanese cuisine for soups or stews. They are also used to make noodle flour and a gelatin-like substance, which is then used to make special tofu.

It is believed that eating foods containing amorphophallus tubers helps cleanse the gastrointestinal tract of toxins and reduce weight.

This plant has been cultivated in China for 1500 years and is used as a dietary product for lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

In medicine, amorphophallus tubers are used as raw materials for the manufacture of diabetic products. Drying out of the soil and lack of light can cause partial drying of the leaf. In conditions of a moderate lack of light, the amorphophallus leaf changes color – it becomes more contrasting, dark green with red edges.

Amorphophallus cognac, male flowersAmorphophallus cognac, male flowers
Amorphophallus cognac, female flowersAmorphophallus cognac, female flowers

Amorphophallus titanic

Amorphophallus titanic (Amorphophallus giant) (A. titanum) Is truly a grassy giant. The diameter of its tuber is half a meter or more, and the weight of the tuber is up to 23 kg. A little over 100 years ago, Italian botanist Odorado Bekkeri discovered this plant in the rainforest of western Sumatra. Subsequently, he was able to grow in greenhouses in a number of countries.

This miracle with a huge inflorescence significantly exceeding the height of a person made a sensation and caused a pilgrimage to the botanical gardens. Journalists who have repeatedly written about amorphophallus called its inflorescence “the largest flower in the world.”

An inflorescence more than two meters long, consisting of almost 5000 flowers and surrounded by a huge bowl-shaped bedspread, corrugated in the upper part, made an absolutely stunning impression. From the center of the coverlet, the upper sterile part of the ear rose in the form of a powerful cone by about 1,5 m. During flowering, it heated up significantly (up to 40 ° C) and it was during this period that a pungent smell emanated from the flowering plant, which resembled the “aroma” of rotten meat.

For the appearance of the plant and the specific smell of the flower, amorphophallus is called: Voodoo lily, devil’s tongue, snake palm, cadaverous flower. This smell informs pollinating insects (mainly flies) about the beginning of flowering.

Amorphophallus titanic fruitsAmorphophallus titanic fruits Farmer sftrajan

Amorphophallus care

Until the beginning of August, during the active growing season, for a rapid increase in the mass of the tuber, it is necessary to apply phosphorus (or complex with a predominance of phosphorus) fertilizers regularly (once every 1,5-2 weeks).

In summer, the plant is watered immediately after the topsoil dries. In this case, it is necessary that the water seeps through the drainage hole and appears in the pan. It is not poured out immediately, but after 30-60 minutes, so that the substrate is evenly wet.

At the end of August, the leaf begins to dry and eventually dies off, the plant retires. Watering at this time is minimized. In the fall, the tubers are removed from the pot, cleaned of the substrate, carefully examined, and if necessary, rotting areas and dead roots are removed with a sharp knife. Then washed with a strong solution of potassium permanganate, sprinkle the “wounds” with charcoal powder and leave to dry. Then they are stored at room temperature in a container with dry sand or even an empty cardboard box, which is placed in a dark place.

In late winter or early spring, sprouts appear on the surface of the tuber. This is a signal that it is time to plant amorphophallus in a special “aroid” mixture consisting of leaf earth, humus, peat and coarse sand (1: 1: 1: 0,5). It is good to add about two glasses of dry crushed manure to a bucket of mixture. When choosing a container, it should be borne in mind that its diameter should be 2-3 times the size of the tuber. A crock is placed on the hole in the bottom of the vessel with the convex side upwards, which is then covered with a layer of sand or fine expanded clay.

The drainage should be one third of the height of the pot. Then a layer of soil is added to half the pot, where a depression is made, and it is filled with sand, into which the tuber is immersed by one third. From above, the amorphophallus is covered with earth, leaving the upper part of the sprout above the soil. Water and put in a bright place. Until the inflorescence appears or the leaf unfolds, the plant is watered moderately, and then abundantly. Due to the fact that daughter tubers and stem roots are formed in the upper part of the mother tuber, it is necessary to periodically add soil to the plant.

Amorphophallus is affected by spider mites and aphids

The high humidity prevents the appearance of spider mites, therefore, on hot summer days, it is useful to spray the leaf in the morning and in the evening with distilled or soft water, since no white spots remain from it. It is useful to put the pot on a pallet with wet pebbles or expanded clay.

Abyssinian amorphophallus (Amorphophallus abyssinicus)Abyssinian amorphophallus (Amorphophallus abyssinicus)

Reproduction of amorphophallus

Amorphophallus is propagated mainly by “children”. From time to time, children appear from below, next to the leaf of an adult plant. Under favorable growth conditions, these babies sometimes almost reach the size of their parent during the season. But experience shows that amorphophallus is not very generous with children.

In addition to the reproduction of amorphophallus by children, there is another rare and interesting way of vegetative propagation of this plant, which many owners of the “snake palm” are unaware of.

During the growing season of amorphophallus, in the very center of its leaf (in the very place where the leaf divides into three parts) a nodule rudiment is formed. It is small – therefore, perhaps not all growers pay attention to this neoplasm.

At the end of the season, when the amorphophallus leaf is almost dry, carefully separate this developed nodule. Dry a little at the nodule where it was attached to the leaf. Place the tuber in a small container. And then you will have another amorphophallus!

It happens that the planted leaf nodule begins to germinate immediately. And it also happens that a sprout in a leaf nodule of amorphophallus appears only next spring.

Of course, from a small planted “baby” or nodule, the peduncle does not develop immediately. This is preceded by 5 years, during which only a leaf is formed. And every year the size, leaf dissection and tuber weight increase. Finally, when enough stored substances have been accumulated and the diameter of the tuber reaches 5-30 cm (depending on the species), an inflorescence is formed.

Amorphophallus leafless (Amorphophallus aphyllus)Amorphophallus leafless (Amorphophallus aphyllus)

Some types of amorphophallus

Amorphophallus Praina (Amorphophallus prainii) is found in Laos, Indonesia (Sumatra), Malaysia (Penang, Perak) and Singapore.

Amorphophallus Abyssinian (Amorphophallus abyssinicus) is found in tropical and South Africa.

Amorphophallus white (Amorphophallus albus) is found in the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces of China.

Amorphophallus leafless (Amorphophallus aphyllus) is found from Western tropical Africa to Chad.

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Anna Evans

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