Sunday, October 13, 2013

Random plant event: Anthurium "hookeri"

And now for something way less pretty than Thursday's Ananas post.

Which is not to say it's ugly, exactly. As Anthurium spadices go, the color is an interesting choice. There are more ornamental Anthurium hybrids with purple spadices -- my NOID purple-blooming plant has them -- but in those cases, the spathe is also purple, and there's an overall purple thing happening. With A. "hookeri,"1 only the spadix is purple. The spathe is dull green and narrow, and then the pollen is orange, which was surprising to me -- I'd expected white, powdery pollen like from the blooming andreanum / scherzerianum hybrids I mostly grow.

Granted, this isn't the best picture of the pollen. But it's there, and it's orange.

Anthuriums which are receptive to pollen produce small droplets of a sticky liquid (the better to hold onto any pollen that gets dropped on them, I suppose). It's a pretty minor thing with most of my Anthuriums, and in a lot of cases, I can't even tell when they're receptive, so tiny is the amount of fluid involved. Not so with "hookeri." Once it started producing fluid, it went a little nuts about it -- it's not been dripping on the floor or anything, but there's so much that if I try to dust the spadix with a paintbrush now, the brush gets all gunked up with what can only be described as an orange pollen-based mud.

It'd certainly be awesome if the plant were self-fertile. I don't have any room for more Anthurium seedlings -- there are already, as of last Friday morning, 225 of them here, and I suspect that "hookeri" seedlings would probably get big really fast. As it is, I'm already throwing out or selling off some of my plants to try to make room for everything coming in from outside. But you know I wouldn't be able to resist starting "hookeri" seeds anyway, were any berries to form.

As to how I got it to bloom in the first place, the only thing I did differently than usual involved watering: I had previously been watering it the same way as everything else. Take it off the shelf, plop it in the tub, water water water, splash of fertilizer, drain, back on the shelf. A few weeks before this happened, I got tired of lifting it on and off the shelf, which is difficult because of all the huge, fragile leaves. So I poured some water in, splash of fertilizer, and left it, without draining. I don't know why that would make the difference, and it's possible that this is coincidental and the blooming was going to happen anyway, but the change in watering sure seems related to the bloom. We'll have to try again in a few months and see what happens.


1 "Hookeri" is in quotes because this plant is probably not the actual A. hookeri. It is my understanding that the actual species is pretty hard to find, so clever and evil plant-sellers have just taken to calling whatever old Anthurium they have lying around A. hookeri, the logic apparently being that by the time you find out that you didn't get the species you wanted, they'll already have your money and so who cares. That said, when one takes into account the distortions in form (floppy habit, bigger leaves, longer petioles) caused by my plant having been grown indoors, there does seem to be a decent chance that my plant might actually be A. hookeri. The spadix is the right color, the leaf margins are sort of ambiguously wavy, and the internodes are short (especially for a plant that should be stretching toward the light).

On the other hand, I haven't seen the black glandular punctates described at the link, and my plant's yet to produce berries, so I have no idea if the berries are red or white. (It's probably not going to produce berries, either -- I've tried smearing the pollen around just to see if something cool will happen, and I've also taken the pollen to the Anthuriums I'm breeding, same reason, but Anthuriums are not universally interfertile or self-fertile, so the odds are that nothing is going to come of that.) But at this point, I don't think I can rule out that I might have the real thing, even if the odds are still against it.

1 comment:

Xerographica said...

I wonder if anybody has tried crossing a colorful Anthurium with a more tolerant type. I have Anthurium coriaceum, A. scandens and A. schlechtendalii all happily growing on my tree. They don't mind going bone dry between waterings... but it would be nice if their spaths were more colorful.