Takka – bat – care

The black lily, or bat, is called in tropical countries the takki, cultivated here in the open field. The local population eats young leaves and inflorescences, as well as the pulp of fruits, makes hats and fishing tackle from the stems, prepares flour for baking bread, sweets, medicines from rhizomes. In Europe, these plants are exotic, which are grown in conservatories and greenhouses (in low-heated apartments, compared to ours, it is too cold for her). Takki are grown not so much for the sake of beauty, but because of the unusual appearance. Let’s make a reservation right away – plants have nothing in common with a lily, and even more so with a bat.

Tacca chantrieri. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Maritza Dominguez
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Description of takki

Race Takka (Notch) belongs to the monotypic botanical family Dioscoreae (Dioscoreaceae) or separated into a separate monotypic family Takkovye (Taccaceae), which has 10 natural species that live in the tropics of the Old World.

Takki is a perennial herb with tuberous creeping rhizomes and basal leaves on long ribbed petioles. Their height ranges from 40 cm to 1 m, with the exception of the type Takka peristonadrezannaya, or takka leontolepestovidnoyNotch leontepetaloides). In nature, it reaches 3 m.

In addition to the leonto-petal taca, which is distinguished by its gigantic size, there is another curious species with peculiar strongly dissected leaves – Takka is finger-cut (Tacca palmatifida).

The originality of the takka species in the structure and color of flowers. There are very few plants with black flowers in the world flora, takki are one of them. However, let us clarify right away that the flowers still do not have pure black tones. These are usually shades of dark brown, purple, or greenish purple. (In Southeast Asia, there are species with variegated flowers – green with brown or green with yellow and purple markings).

No less peculiar is the structure of takka inflorescences. Among the beautiful brilliant green leaves, flower arrows appear, carrying umbrellas at the top of flowers with threadlike drooping appendages. In appearance, they resemble a fantastic bat.

Tacca peristonadrezannaya, or tacca leontolepestkovidnaya (Tacca leontopetaloides)
Tacca peristonadrezannaya, or tacca leontolepestkovidnaya (Tacca leontopetaloides). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Tony Rodd

Takki bloom and bear fruit almost all year round. The flowers are regular, bisexual, on short stalks, 6-10 in an umbellate inflorescence surrounded by four covering leaves (2 small, 2 large). Long drooping filamentous appendages – sterile pedicels. The perianth of the tacca consists of 6 petal-shaped segments arranged in two circles of three. 6 stamens, column 1 with branched stigma. The fruit is a berry capsule.

It is curious that takki do not have pronounced adaptations for attracting pollinators. In nature, flowers are “respected” by carrion flies or dung flies. Insects are attracted by the shine of the cells on the “bottom” of the flower and the very faint smell of spoiled meat, almost imperceptible to humans. In addition, flies are attracted to large bracts, in which you can spend the night, and juicy filamentous appendages – a real treat for insects.

In nature, takki mainly grow on the sea coasts and in mountain rainforests, preferring a humid atmosphere and humus-rich soil. However, there are species that live in the savannahs. In these plants, the aboveground part dies off in the dry season, but grows back quickly with the onset of rains.

Tacca integrifolia
Tacca integrifolia. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Elaine Williams

Recently, our flower shops offer a super novelty takku whole leaf (Тассa integrifalia) Is perhaps the most unusual plant that came to us from the jungles of Southeast Asia. The inflorescence of the takka whole-leaved rises above the leaves. Each flower has a diameter of up to 4 cm, the length of the filamentous appendages is 8-10 cm (in natural conditions, they can reach 25 cm).

In some botanical gardens there is a close species of takka whole-leaved – Takka Chantriere (Tacca chantrieri). It differs in larger, wider and folded at the base of the leaves, sitting on long petioles, and numerous (up to 20 pieces) flowers – shiny, red-brown. Takka Shantrye grows high in the mountains, at an altitude of up to 2000 m above sea level.

Takka care at home

For a successful culture, the whole-leaved takka needs a bright, but protected from direct sunlight location (it feels best in the northern window), a temperature of at least 18 degrees in winter, abundant watering in summer with soft, settled water and spraying at least twice a day. (However, if you do not have time for constant spraying, place the plant on a wide pan with damp expanded clay).

In winter, takka is watered only as the surface of the soil dries up and the pot. They feed every two weeks in spring, summer and autumn. Fertilizer can be used universal, those that are often in our flower shops, but it is still best to look for special ones designed for orchids.

Transplanted into a mixture composed of turf, leafy soil, peat, sand (0,5: 1: 1: 0,5). Drainage is required. Takka is propagated by dividing rhizomes, after cutting off the aerial part – a short stem with leaves. With a sharp knife, the rhizome is divided into several parts, the places of the cuts are sprinkled with charcoal powder and, after drying for a day, they are seated in small pots. New shoots grow from dormant buds on the rhizome.

With proper care, the whole-leaved tacca is rarely affected by pests.

Tacca palmatifida (Tacca palmatifida)
Tacca palmatifida. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Karl Gercens

Growing takki from seeds

Takka can be grown from freshly harvested seeds. Mature seeds are up to 5 mm long, their color is light or dark brown. In nature, fruits quickly rot in a humid environment, releasing seeds that are carried by ants.

In culture, takka seeds must be removed from the box, washed with a weak solution of potassium permanganate, dried and sown to a depth of about 1 cm in a light soil mixture composed of leafy earth and sand. The number of seeds in the fruit varies from 5 to 50 pieces. Seedlings dive as they grow (plants tolerate transplanting well), water and feed abundantly.

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Anna Evans

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