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  Amorphophallus (bulbifer question #1 - does it ever have
From: Eugene Hoh hohe at symphony.net.au> on 2003.08.01 at 00:34:21(10461)
Dear People,

Such excitement over A. bulbifer...! (somehow I'd presumed it was considered rather weedy and boring by Amorphophallophiles.)

Julius and Brian, (and Harry W.), your comments re. pleasant-smelling bulbifer - this reminds me of when I first heard about Amorphophalluses, as a child, reading a book by H.C.D. deWit (Plants of the World: The Higher Plants II, Thames & Hudson1967). If I recall correctly, after discussing stenchy species (titanum, konjac), he pointed out that A. bulbifer, in contrast, smells pleasant & fruity. However, all other reports I've come across (till now) contradict this - they always mention how disgusting it smells...( I
can't vouch for my own plants though - strangely I've always missed the smelliest phase of their blooming.)

This variability of aroma (when not due to growing conditions, time of day, or subjective observation), as well as the differently coloured and patterned forms, lead me to ask (...Lord P?) :

If A. bulbifer (and, likewise, A. muelleri) normally reproduces itself by cloning, through bulbils & apomictic seed, how variable is the species in the wild?
I read in 'Everything you always wanted to ask about...' (http://www.aroid.org/genera/amorphophallus/amcult.html)
that these species have 39 chromosomes, (triploid???) an odd number that can't divide in two to make viable haploid sex cells. Is this always the case - and does it mean that without sexual reproduction, genetic diversity within A. bulbifer arises from mutation? Or are there sometimes freak fertile plants (e.g. with doubled chromosomes) which can 'have sex', yielding variable seedlings from cross-pollination?


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