This beautiful small tree is located in the middle bed of the north greenhouse. It is a native of the forested areas of South Africa.
The Tucker Greenhouse has its share of ‘critters’, but right now there is a ‘bloom’ of these nasty whitefly insects, AND they are slowly defoliating a large Ficus tree in one of the tropical greenhouses. They seem to like certain plants better than others too. They love feeding on members of the Araceae, and Moraceae plant families in particular.
For a great description of whiteflies and the havoc they can wreak on plants, see the following from Planet Natural, a research center for organic gardeners…
For a lively rendition of the song “My banana has no bones”, sung by Dr. James Bircher, please click here.
The Tucker greenhouse was given a Titan arum tuber from the New York Botanical Garden five years ago. Each year after its stem and leaves die back, I lift the tuber and transplant it into a larger pot. The summer heat in the Tucker greenhouse is way too hot for this tender plant, so, I bring it home to my patio for the long summer. This year it grew to a height of 1.5 meters. I recently brought it back to the Tucker greenhouse to live until next summer. If everything I’ve read is correct, the Tucker greenhouse Titan arum could bloom in two more years! Fingers crossed.
For more information on this amazing plant, check out this link from Kew Gardens http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/amorphophallus-titanum-titan-arum
This species has an unopened male flower on the left and a female flower on the right (note 3 styles). A plant with unisexual flowers on the same plant is called a monoecious plant. This plant has toxic white sap like most members of the Euphorbiaceae family.
This species is native to the Mediterranean region, but is an invasive in the United States. The flowers are diurnal (close at night or in low-light weather conditions.
Note the white, three-lobed stigma, and the six yellow anthers filled with pollen.
This plant closes its leaves when touched. Because of this, it has become the favorite attraction of Tucker greenhouse tour groups. People visiting the greenhouse touch the leaves and shriek with joy. Others video tape the leaves slowly closing. This plant movement is called thigmonasty.
Several Desert rose plants are currently in full bloom in the succulent room right now.