AMORPHOPHALLUS Araceae A. species
HABITAT: Native Tropical Asia, Africa. Hardy Zone 10.
USES: Pots, tubs, specimen plantings, tropical effects.
HABIT: Large, tuberous-rooted plants with 3-parted, umbrella-like leaves borne atop an upright, 3-4', mottled scape (stem). 4" to 4' flowers precede foliage, are foul smelling, and are in a combination of chocolate, reddish- purple, green spotted, white and metallic shades, and usually with a wavy edge dependent on species.
SPECIES: A. campanulatus (Stanley's washtub). Scape 2'. Spathe (flower) 8 inches high, 10 inches wide with fluted edge. Reddish-purple margin, grayish, spotted white to purple within and purplish outside. Tuber 8-10 pounds. 3', dark green, lobed leaves. Spadix (flower spike) 10 inches. East Indies.
A. giganteus. 3-5' leaves pale green. Spathe 1' long, 8 inches wide. Purple with wavy margins. Spadix equals the flower length. Malaya.
A. mossanbicensis. Spathe 6 inches long. Deep purple. East and South Africa.
A. rivieri, also known as Hydrosme rivieri (Devil's tongue, Snake palm, Voodoo plant). To 4'. Leaves to 4' across. Dark green, deeply serrated. Scape brown and white spotted with red. Rosy, Calla-like spathe 1-3' long. Green spotted within shading to purplish toward wavy margins. 12" to 36" spadix dark red. China.
A. simlense. Spathe 15 inches long. Golden inside spotted purple and metallic brown outside. Fine, palm-like foliage. To 4' high.
CULTURE: Corms are potted in spring in humus-rich (compost, peat, leaf mold, etc.) soil. Little water is given until after leaf stalk (scape) is seen, then water regularly until growth ceases in autumn. Feed with a balanced fertilizer monthly, or incorporate a handful of slow release fertilizer, such as Magamp, which will furnish nutrients throughout the growing season. Prefers light shade but tolerates moderate shade to full sun. After foliage ceases, lift and store in cool, dry area over winter. Do not water. A flower scape will usually appear on mature corms in late December-January. Flower and stem reaches 60-80 inches in height and forms a funnel-shaped flower of many colors depending upon species; usually has a disagreeable odor lasting 10-14 days. Flower and stem wither to be replaced by a short, pink leaf stem which develops into a taller, stout with mottled scape and umbrella-like foliage.
INSECTS: Not generally a problem.
DISEASES: Not generally a problem.
PROPAGATION: Offsets, division of corms.
REMARKS: Whether potted for specimen planting, patio use, or grown in ground, Amorphophallus species will afford the grower a delightful tropical foliage effect for lining a path, driveway, or used as a specimen plant in a particular area. The spectacular flower which follows the foliage, though possessed with a disagreeable odor, has to be seen to be believed for its spectacular beauty.