Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Random plant event: Anthurium 'Pandola' berries

I bought an Anthurium 'Pandola' last March that had a ton of flowers on it, mostly because I really like Anthuriums. It hasn't been very good about re-flowering since then, but it has done something even more interesting: I've gotten to watch the flower produce berries. This is something I'd seen the beginning stages of before, at work, but at work somebody always cut the flowers off before the berries got very far along.

Anyway. I have only vague ideas about how to start Anthuriums from seed, and my understanding is that it's not all that easy to do even when you know what's going on, so I'm not expecting to get plants out of this, but I planted some in vermiculite I was using for other things anyway, and if something does sprout, that'd be awesome. But on to the pictures:

This is the flower early in the process of growing berries: an Anthurium spadix is actually a stack of very small flowers, which is maybe slightly visible in this extreme close-up of a dying spadix:

Any one of these flowers can be pollinated, as far as I can tell (With some aroids, flowers are distinctly male or female, which are located at opposite ends of the spadix, usually with a zone of sterile flowers in between, but that does not seem to be how it works with Anthurium. I'm also still waiting to see Anthurium pollen, though I'm sure it must exist.), and in the first photo above, most of the flowers have been: you can see the most mature berries are orange, with the less-developed ones being greenish, and so on down to the smallest ones, which are little more than small whitish bumps. (It will probably help to open the image in a new window.)

I didn't get a picture of the flower with fully-developed berries on it, but it's basically like the first picture, except that there are more fully-sized orange berries. They don't all ripen at once, by the way. I'm not sure at what point they're officially ready to come off, so I tried to pull off a range of them, from some that were full-sized and plump to a few that were slightly shriveled and wrinkled.

It's at this point that I start just randomly guessing what you're supposed to do. I popped the seeds out of the berries, which may or may not be right, and then tried to separate the pulp from the seeds. It's not easy to do. The pulp has the approximate texture of a raisin: kind of gummy and sticky. It's a lot easier to get out if you wipe it on a paper towel.

The pulp also has an interesting smell. It's not unpleasant: what it reminded me of was the light, sweet scent of corn pollen. I thought about tasting it, and really wanted to, but didn't. (Partly because although death by Anthurium would be a poetic way to go, I didn't especially want to die, or even get sick, and partly because I figured the taste would be disappointing.)

Anyway. I put the seeds in a glass of water to try to dislodge any remaining pulp --

-- and then planted them in damp vermiculite in a sunny spot, and we'll see whether anything comes of this. Even if it doesn't, I figured dissecting Anthurium berries was worth a post anyway.


Claude said...

I've never seen one of these go to seed, but then I'm not overly familiar with antrhriums to begin with, my only real contact with them being in floral arrangements.

I'm certainly hoping that they'll sprout, it'll be interesting to see just how difficult they are...

lynn'sgarden said...

Like Claude, I've never seen these in berry stage either. De-pulped, the seeds looked like pine nuts. I too 'taste' unlikely things in the garden, especially if it's very fragrant, I just have to try it! Death by Anthurium...LOL!

Lance said...

Death by Anthurium - sounds like a book you should write.

cherry said...

Congratulations on your Blotanical Win.
~ hugs, Cherry

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your blotanical award! And this is so interesting--hope your seeds make it. You've been a good teacher for us bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you deliberately pollinated an anthurium? I only ask because I was taught the technique by some orchid greenhouse guys. It involves gently pinching the spadix and moving your fingers up and down on it. Totally serious, and it works, presumably on any aroid blossom. Blushing or giggling while doing so is optional.

Lance said...

Oh my - I see a video in the making - Anthurium does Dallas..., surely a better title exists.

Tom said...

I have an Anthurium scandens: the flowers are small, greenish white, and fragrant (up close); intensely so at odd times. The flowers often set berries, large white and lilac, and long lasting. To ensure berries, I rub two spadix together. Until Anonymous' pollination description I never thought about it like that... Huh.

Anyway, I have grown them and others species from seed. They usually don't take to long to sprout, but they don't seem to be in any big hurry to get big. Good luck.

Also, I recommend Deni Brown's book 'Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family'.

And congrats on your Blotanical win!

Anonymous said...

I came across this post when I was looking up information about Anthuriums. I have a pink anthurium and, thanks to this post, now know that its producing berries on the spadix. They are fairly large and, what I assume are the "ripened" ones, are a deep red colour. I pulled one off out of curiosity and, after cleaning away the pollen, came across seeds that look just as they do in your picture. I'm curious as to whether anything came out of your planting them?

mr_subjunctive said...


Yes; I originally got eight seedlings, and then four had a tragic accident so now I'm down to four. But still. The most recent post about them, which includes links back to the previous posts, is located here.