Succulent Gardening: The Art of Nature

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Amorphophallus konjac

Amorphophallus konjac is a bulb that produces an enormous single flower up to 2 feet in size.. Its close relative, A. titanum produces that largest unbranched flower in the world and is exhibited in botanic gardens when it blooms. The flower of A. konjac produces a strong odor that smells like a rotting corpse, hence the name "corpse flower". These plants stay dormant as a bulb but will suddenly and quickly produce leaves in late Spring and will hold them through Summer. The plant then "collapses" in early Fall and stays dormant until next Spring. During this time it does not need water. Start watering in late April and by May or June, you should see the leaves start to emerge again. Be sure to give your plant ample water and a well-drained, fertile soil. They need a lot of fertilizer to grow well. Each year the bulb grows and produces off-shoots. When a bulb reaches about 6 inches in size it may produce one of its spectacular blooms. Keep your plant in partial shade outside or inside a greenhouse. Also, make sure to bury your bulb at least 2" below the soil line. (formerly Amorphophallus or Hydrosme rivieri) Amorphophallus konjac is from the Araceae family. This unusual hardy tuberous aroid has one giant divided leaf on top of a 4-5' tall, green and purple mottled, fleshy stalk (petiole). When old enough, the tuber produces a fascinating 5' flower (early May, before the leaf emerges) resembling a giant vase made from the purple vinyl used for cheap '70s car seats. The vase (spathe) is home to a 3' purple spadix that sits atop a 2' speckled petiole...gather your neighbors for the fragrant flowering ritual. After flowering, the plant may rest for months before the leaf emerges in late June. The mother tuber will form offsets, eventually making a giant clump...very exotic and unusual! Amorphophallus konjac has long been prized medicinally for its weight loss properties and is now used in many weight loss products. If you've ever eaten Amorphophallus konjac cooked you can easily understand why it would make you lose weight. I don't recommend eating it..
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