Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Sign of Summer's End

It's been no mystery to me that summer is winding to a close. Still, I was surprised to notice this little sign of the season's demise. What you're seeing here is the beginning of the formation of a bulbil on the leaf of the largest of my Amorphophallus bulbifer plants. A. bulbifer is a relative of the Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum that causes a stir among the botanically geeky any time one of them blooms somewhere.

Of the several species of Amorphophallus I have, I think it has the prettiest leaves. They're large, deeply-lobed and have a wavy pink edge. A. bulbifer gets its name from what I believe is a unique mode of reproduction within the genus. At the end of its growing season it forms a large bulbil on top of the point where its petiole joins the leaf blades. Smaller bulbils form at points along the upper side of the main veins of the leaf. A few that are just starting to form are visible here as the little green teardrop shapes. Once the leaf senesces the largest of the bulbils, which now look like rough little potatoes, can be stored and later planted to create new plants.

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