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Mike's Blog - Day 50

50 days. That’s a long time in one sense, but in another, particularly in the world or gardening not very long at all. About 10 years ago we were sent some seeds of the giant Titan Arum, Amophophalis titanium from the Eden Project.

Only a few germinated but one has survived. These grow then die down, then grow again, but each time get a bit bigger after the dormant phase. It’s in the dormant phase that they are prone to rotting off. Eventually they get huge, just a single leaf in a large tub, and it’s when they die down from this monster of a leaf that they have the potential to develop a flower when they next come out of dormancy. We think ours is at least two more growing cycles off flowering.

The smell from its flower has been studied and includes the smells found in sweaty socks, rotting fish and Limburger cheese (never tried it, don’t think I will by the sound of it). Many plants have what we might consider terrible smells, even our own native arum “Lords and Ladies” or “Cuckoo pint” which flowers at around this time of the year. Foul smells still attract key pollinators, typically flies.

The other interesting thing about the giant Arum is that, from what I have been told anyway,  it has a very clever way of avoiding being eaten by elephants in its native land of Sumatra. Its new growth would be very easy for elephants to eat, or simply trampled down. However the leaf stem grows blotchy marks on it, these resemble lichen. Lichen of course takes a long time to grow and you would find it on woody tree trunks that would stop and elephants progress or be inedible. These markings help to mimic old tree trunks and trick the elephant into thinking it’s been there for many years, not a few weeks…

We happen to have an elephants tooth in the cabinet with the weaver bird nest. It’s incredibly heavy, I’d say the weight of two bricks.