Thursday, October 24, 2013

Grab bag

Various recent plant- and fungus-related events:

1. Stapelia gigantea

Everybody else has been posting Stapelia pictures for the last month or so, but my plants have lagged behind for some reason: everybody else was posting flowers when I was just beginning to see buds.

So far, two flowers have opened, and there are another four or five left to go. As to the smell: I can't detect any just standing in the room with them. I can if I get right up next to them and inhale, though. Experiments to determine the minimum number of Stapelia gigantea flowers it takes to be unpleasant in a plant-room-sized room are ongoing; I'll keep you informed about the results.

2. Strelitzia juncea

I've finally obtained some Strelitzia juncea seeds, after a long period of wanting some but not finding any. I began with five seeds, which I planted on 19 September, and I noticed the first sprout on 18 October, which I guess is fairly rapid progress. I'd been warned that they were irregular germinators, and could take a few months to do anything, so I guess this is encouraging.

I'm not even sure why I wanted them in the first place; the existing Strelitzias here (2 S. nicolai, 2 S. reginae) are big and awkward to deal with, and it's not clear that S. juncea can even be grown indoors in the first place. But I'm still going to try.

3. Anthuriums, assorted

The Anthurium "hookeri" spadix is not showing any sign of having self-pollinated. Which is more or less what I was expecting to happen. Or expecting to not happen, I guess. It's still attached to the plant, though, and sometimes they take a while to show any obvious changes, so I haven't entirely given up hope yet.

There are also two new additions to the list of flowering Anthurium seedlings, #26 ("Peaches Christ," whom we've seen on the blog before) and #276 ("Zach Religious"). That's eight seedlings blooming now: 26, 59, 76, 108, 238, 243, 276, and 282. In case you needed some lottery numbers to play or something.1

Peaches' spathe is, so far, the same pink-red as "Bijoux Tuit" and most of the others, and is consequently not that interesting enough to warrant a photo, but the plant as a whole looks good even if the flower's nothing special.

Zach is possibly going to be the most interesting seedling yet; his spathe is a pale peach-pink with a red margin right now.

It's actually kind of unsettlingly close to my skin tone (below and to the left of the spathe), now that I look at the picture.

The color may change -- not only is it normal for developing spathes to get darker in color as they mature, but I'm not sure Zach's going to make it to full bloom. Some of the Anthurium seedlings do a practice inflorescence and then drop it before they make a real one in a different color,2 and there are some indications that Zach might be inclined that way. (Both "Dave Trading" and "Bob Humbug" did this too; maybe it's a guy thing.) In any case, I'm potentially excited about having some variety in color.

"Sal Monella" is both in the process of unrolling the spathe from its first inflorescence and in the process of producing a second bloom. If the second bloom is successful, then Sal would be the first of the seedlings to bloom twice, which makes him potentially valuable for breeding. Also nice: the spathe has remained a solid red red, not the pinkish-red of most of the others. It's not hugely different from the other five that had bloomed previously, but it's different enough to notice and be happy about.

(New inflorescence is just starting to be visible, below and slightly to the left of the one that's opening now.)

EDIT: I finished this post Wednesday morning, then found another two flowers in progress on Wednesday afternoon: #58 ("Betty Larsony") and #245 ("Sawyer Ad"). Sawyer's spathe looks more or less in line with Gemini and most of the other seedlings; Betty might be a little lighter in color but it's hard to tell for sure. In Betty's case, I believe she's trying to apologize. So that makes ten.

And no, I'm not going to blog about it every. Single. Time. one of the Anthurium seedlings produces a flower from now until the end of eternity. But I'm excited. Bear with me.

4. Unknown mushrooms

I happened on this group a while back and found the size of the clump impressive enough to photograph. I couldn't make an ID on the species, even with the pictures to go from and my copy of The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms; my best guess is something in the Hypholoma genus but I emphasize that it's a guess.

The closest match in the book was H. capnoides, but the pictures of H. capnoides that come up in Google don't look much like my pictures or those in the book. And considering that the book is explicitly about edible mushrooms, and not all mushrooms are edible, there's every chance it shouldn't contain a photo of this particular mushroom in the first place. So I probably shouldn't even be guessing at an ID in public.

Mushrooms remain neat, though, even if they aren't plants.

5. Artiocarpus heterophyllus

Finally, an oddity at the supermarket: Jackfruit.

One could buy it by weight ($10/lb, which translates to $4.50/kg) or pay $30 (reduced from $35!) and get the entire fruit. (Which suggests that the whole thing was maybe only 4 lb / 1.8 kg to begin with. It sure looked a lot heavier than that, though, so I may be making some bad assumptions.) At those prices, for a fruit I couldn't have even guessed how to begin eating, I wasn't particularly tempted, though the informational sign next to it mentioned seeds, and that got my attention briefly.


1 Yes, I am aware that lottery numbers usually don't go that high, and don't usually have you pick eight numbers. But I'm not seriously suggesting that you play the lottery, so it all works out.
2 It's not really practice. But that's what it looks like. (If you object to plant anthropomorphization, what are you even doing here in the first place?)


botanied said...

Jackfruits are really common back in India where I''m from. When ripe, the seed pods inside are quite sweet and fragrant (in a good way, unlike durian). And in the raw form, its cooked and eaten. Its a good thing that you didn't buy that one though. Between the seedpods and the skin there's a thick layer of white sap that almost feels like gorilla glue and requires quite some skill in handling (or rather avoiding).

Tom said...

I bought a jackfruit once. It tasted similar to juicy fruit gum with a hint of pawpaw/guananabana/anything in the annona in not at all fruity and kind of icky. I don't plan on buying it again.

Anonymous said...

Today was the first time that I noticed a very large bud on my Stapelia Gigantea. It was "hidden" at the back of the plant next to the window. So looks like my plant is also lagging behind on blooming. I bought the plant mid-Nov 2 yrs ago and there were only about 3-4 "stalks" on the small plant but it had a single, beautiful flower. It's taken 2 yrs to bloom again. And I noticed about 8 other tiny buds on the plant - can't wait to see them open up!

AnnadlC from Toronto said...

I love fresh jackfruit from the Philippines but in the absence of it Canada, I settle for the canned variety. I put a few pieces into a spring roll wrapper with a thin-ish slice of raw plantain, sprinkle it with a bit of brown sugar, roll the wrapper, then deep fry it at a low/medium temp -- this ensures that the plantain gets cooked through before the wrapper burns. This is a filipino dessert/snack called Turon.

Anonymous said...

If this fungus was growing near an oak, my guess would be a hen-of-the-woods, Grifola frondosa The one that I saw looked just like the one in your photo, not as gray as the ones seen on Wikipedia and Google images

mr_subjunctive said...


Weirdly, there weren't any trees particularly close, as far as I remember, though that area got hit by the tornado in 2006, which wound up removing a lot of trees. It could be that there are some oak remains in the vicinity.

Anonymous said...

I was at a party once where someone brought a jackfruit. After having butchered it, it was clear there were seeds inside. There turned out to be something like forty of them, maybe 1.5" in diameter. Recklessly, I asked if I could have the seeds to try to germinate them, figuring maybe a few might come up and I could see what a jackfruit seedling looked like.

I had a 100% germination rate. I was giving away jackfruit seedlings for a while. I don't know if any are still alive -- I didn't try to keep any. The Internet at the time had nothing to say about them as a houseplant because apparently no one else was crazy enough to try or something.

Anyway, beware -- they are very fertile and grow rapidly.

(My latest experiment with germinating fruit from the grocery store is with dragonfruit. That turned out to also have an inconveniently high germination rate, but the seedlings are growing very, very slowly.)