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  A. Konjac regrowth and contractile roots
From: Craig Smith <craigsmith at sprintmail.com> on 1997.09.11 at 06:33:03(1217)
Hi,
Well, last year I decided to check this out. In 1995, I tried to dig
up a small A. Konjac tuber for a friend (in June when it had just
spread its leaves/leaf). I just reached into the dirt and lifted it
out - expecting to get the tuber, some dirt and the roots. Much to my
surprise, most of the dirt fell off and I was left with the bottom of
the stem with roots spreading out in a circle from the bottom edge.
Just the pattern of roots you'd expect but without any tuber. I thought I'd
killed it for sure but there were plenty of roots so I just replanted
it and added some water. You'd never know I disturbed it!!!!! It
grew just fine and had a tuber in the fall. And on the bottom of the
new tuber (as usual) there was the shriveled up remains of the old tuber.

So last year I did an experiment. I planted a medium size tuber in a
shallow pot in plain Perlite. The roots grew and the plant came up as
expected. And as the plant got larger, the tuber got smaller until it
was almost all plant and no tuber. Then the tuber started to grow
until it was about the size it had been when I started. All the time
I could see clearly what was happening by pushing aside the Perlite.
Although the pan was only 2 inches deep, there were a number of coarse
roots in the circle which did a somewhat reasonable job of holding
the plant upright. In soil, I expect they would be what has been
called contractile as they appeared to be sort of crooked like they
had shrunk up in length.
So now I'm a believer that the tuber gets consumed by the plant as it
grows and then A NEW TUBER GROWS. (The tuber does NOT get bigger each
year - each year the new plant grows a larger new tuber.) It's much
akin to when the 'flower' grows and uses up a part of the tuber in the
process. In fact, the one I had last year transferred 5 of its 13
pounds to the flower in a few weeks and weighed 8 pounds when the flower died.
Hope this helps.
Craig

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