Friday, November 9, 2012

Flowers: My very own black flower - Typhonium-divaricatum

 This photo, I cropped it to show just the flower. The spathe is the big petal-like part that people consider the "flower". It looks like a tongue.  The spadix is the thin spike part sticking out of it. It looks like a Dragon Arum, but the leaves are different. Can some one ID it? 

Once I posted this flower and probably mistakenly wrongly ID it as Indian kale. I went through books and Googled and found the leaves similar to an Indian kale and named it in honour of my friendship with my Indian friends I made in NTU. I check with plant experts, and books, there wasn't any plant like my plant.
About 20 years ago, I found the original plant in the jungles near to NTU. The Singapore government left the jungle for the soldiers to practise their warfare. Only a crazy person like me would ignore signs with 2 rifles on them.

I nurtured it, one day, many many years later, I saw the black flower. Not black black but burgundy black. The colour of dark liver. I was very excited. Many people come to my plants and they wowed at my "black tulip." I had a gardening column on NTU staff's Nanyang connect website, so the plant is seen all round the world as the professors are international.

So I grew many pots to present it especially to Indian friends. Strange as it may seem, my friends could not make their plants flower. It was as if some one says some people put a voodoo so that only they could have the special plant.

The bloom lasts only 1 day and is best only in the early morning. It doesn't bloom much. May be once every 2 years. If you don't catch it blooming in the morning, you have to wait for another year or 2. This applies only if you have a green thumb like me. 

This reminds me of the search for the black tulip. Only this slipper like flower is so rare. You see, I snuck into the jungle and stole the mother plant and brought the jungle back with me. I had been quite successful in propagating the plant in pots. I thrill my Indian friends when I present a flowering plant to them with their name sake.

An Australian friend thinks that a similar plant in Australia is called the black slipper. The way the bloom disappears reminds me of Cinderella having to rush back before the carriage turned back into the pumpkin. Perhaps the Aussie person was a great fan of children's stories and named it Cinderella, one of my all time favourites when I was young.
One Christmas, I received an email with a power point of presentation of flowers. This flower made their last page. My friend said it's your plant. They cropped it without the pot.

It makes me wonder if that photo came from my original plant photo. If they did, I wish, they would at least credit me. My lawyer daughter says, you didn't copyright it, you didn't water mark it. It's your own fault. At least, you feel privilege that some one borrowed your flower.

For my save the world theme, share what you have.  When I left Singapore, I sold my plants and raised more than $2000 for the Deaf Children in Kenya.

I am so excited, 2 of my FB friends have told me that they have it in Sarawak, and Luke tells me he has it in his garden, and 
  • Xiao Feng Huang Ann Chin this plant is highly toxic,used externally forboils n snake bites.In chinese is 土半夏.Latin name is typhonium divaricatum.
Typhonium is a genus in the Araceae family endemic to tropical Asia, the South Pacific, andAustralia. It consists of approximately 50 species that are typically found growing in wooded areas.

 2007 May 31;40(3):358-67.

A novel mannose-binding tuber lectin from Typhonium divaricatum (L.) Decne (family Araceae) with antiviral activity against HSV-II and anti-proliferative effect on human cancer cell lines.


College of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064, China.


blackbook said...

Ann, I do have this plant in my garden. My late mum once told me it has curative qualities ... i'll try to send you pics of them.

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

ask her sisters where she got it, she just like me, like going to the jungle to look for unusual plants.


Theodosius said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theodosius said...

Also I have lots of these little guys, is it legal to have these?

Theodosius said...

I found it growing near the gutters