The Tapeworm plant is in full bloom…..Tapeworm plant, what?

Homalocladium platycladium, or Tapeworm plant is found in the Polygonaceae or knotweed family.  This plant has very strange flat, segmented stems.  It is a native of the Solomon Islands and grows to 1.5 to 3.5 meters in height.  If you’d like to see this plant, look for it in the north greenhouse on the east bench.

flat green leaves and a small white flower

Tapeworm plant-Polygonaceae family


Amazon Lily….A fragrant bloom for a change

Eucharis grandiflora, commonly called the Amazon Lily, is found in the Amaryllidaceae family, the same family as Daffodils and Amaryllis.

The Amazon Lily is a shade loving plant with hosta-like leaves, native to Ecuador, & it grows from a bulb, much like that of a daffodil.  Its beautiful, fragrant white flowers bloom at different times of the year, but our Tucker greenhouse specimen is blooming right now in the northern greenhouse, on the eastern most bench.  If you look closely at one of the flowers, you’ll see that the six stamens (male parts of the flower) are arranged in a staminal cup surrounding the pistil (female part of flower).  The fragrance of these flowers gets stronger throughout the day.  It’s sort of sweet & spicy.  Check it out!

imge of a white flower

   Eucharis grandiflora

image of a white flower

Amazon Lily scapose inflorescence

image of a white flower

Side view of flower showing the six stamens





Taiwanese students tour the Tucker Greenhouse!

image of a group of students

In the desert room, looking closely at a Carrion flower (Stapelia gigantea) in bloom.  I’m explaining to the students that this flower smells of rotting flesh.  Carrion flies are attracted to it, and proceed to lay their eggs on it.  The flower is inadvertently pollinated by these flies.  Smart plant!

image of students looking at a tree

Showing the students the chocolate (Theobroma cacao) plant.

students posing near plants

Students posing in the Tropical room on the bridge above the gold fish pond.



What is a “Spathe & Spadix”, you ask? Might I find one in the Tucker Greenhouse?

Yes, you will.  If you visit the Tucker greenhouse these days, you’ll likely see several different species of plants booming with very unusual inflorescences.  A Spathe & Spadix is a type of inflorescence found in the Araceae (Arum or Philodendron family).  It consists of a large spathe, which is simply a large, leaf-like bract, sometimes brightly colored to attract pollinators.  The spathe surrounds and protects the spadix, which is a small spike with small flowers crowded onto a thickened axis.  The Tucker greenhouse houses dozens of different plants found within the Araceae family. Dr. Chris Pires recently donated 12 bulbs of Amorphophallus titanum, or the Titan arum.  Much more about this plant in later posts.

With the help of a fellow coworker, Chris Todd, we just finished photographing all of the currently blooming Arums in the Tucker Greenhouse to date.  Enjoy!

image of a pink flower Anthurium sp.

image of a white flower Spathiphyllum sp.

image of a white flower Aglaonema sp.

image of a maroon flower Sauromatum guttatum

image of dark maroon plant

            Alocasia infernalis

image of a green flower

Another giant Spathiphyllum

image of a white flower Female flowers at bottom of spike, male at top

Zamioculcas zamifolia, or the ZZ plant Zamioculcas zamifolia

image of a white flower

Alocasia amazonica, also known as the African Mask plant

Spathe and spadix of a Caladium plant

Spathe and spadix of a Caladium plant



Where is the Tucker Greenhouse located?

If you are new to campus, but you have a smart phone, you can now download a free app from Gomizzou that is equipped with Location Information Manager.  It will tell you how to find Tucker Hall, the Tucker Greenhouse, the Tucker Mini-Prairie, etc.  It will also list the hours of operation, and it will allow you to access the Tucker Greenhouse website too!  Check it out.

Tucker Greenhouse shade grown coffee?

Coffea arabica, commonly known as coffee, is found in the Rubiaceae family.  The Tucker Greenhouse coffee plant, located in the Tropical Greenhouse in the northeast corner, has produced dozens of coffee beans for the very first time.  These beans are ripening slowly, and are almost completely red.  There might be enough to make one very small cup of ‘Tucker Greenhouse Shade Grown Organic coffee’.

image of a coffee beans on a coffee plant

                       Ripe coffee beans


Odontonema stricta, commonly called Firespike, is found in the Acanthaceae family.  It is native to South America.  It grows well in partial shade, has red, tubular-shaped blooms in the fall, and reaches heights of  2 meters.  It is used extensively in southern gardens as a butterfly and hummingbird nectar plant.  I’ll post more pictures as the flowers open on its long, racemose inflorescence.  This plant is located in the tropical greenhouse, to the right of the entrance.

image of a red flower

Close-up of inflorescence

image of a red flower spike

Odontonema strictum

image of red flower

Firespike plant

image of a red flower

Fully opened flower on a raceme inflorescence



Zephyr Lily, or Rain Lily blooming today only!

image of a pink flower in bloom

  Zephyranthes sp.  (Amaryllidaceae family)

This sweet flower typically  lasts only one day.  If you’d like to see it today, go into the succulent greenhouse and look on the east bench.  This genus is closely related to Daffodils, and Amaryllis.  The leaves on this plant are very narrow, and linear.  The plant in the background with green leaves and red veins belongs to a Caladium plant growing nearby.