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Konjac Amorphophallus konjac

It was not planned, but happened anyway – the Konjac came in to flower. The corm has rested dry in a cupboard since autumn. 3 weeks ago the bud started growing, very rapidly. Yesterday the flower opened and took on the deep red colour. When I returned after work, I had to cut the flower immediately, and carry it out door into the snow. It has a penetrating odour like decaying flesh, probably perfect to attract the flyes needed for pollination in it’s native habitat.

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I’m impressed, that a flower can grow this rapidly from a corm, given no soil or water. All its nourishment and liquid was stored in the corm.

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The corm

The corm is huge. In Japan they cook a delicacy, konnyaku, from it. It’s a kind of jelly, supposed to be healthy and a joy to eat. It’s also employed by the European food industry. It is labelled E 425. See if you can find it in the supermarket!

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The flower I cut from the corm. I placed it in the snow in front of the kitchen window, and brought the corm inside the house again. The rest of the stem on top of the corm will soon wither away, and after a few months I can expect a single large leaf, shaped like a palm. I grow the Konjac for the beautiful leaf.

Last time I had a Konjac in flower was in 2008.

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Leopard Palm Amorphophallus konjac

The first corms I got from a friend under the name Girafs Neck. I think it’s an excellent name, the best I know, but it’s not official. I english there is a list of official names, of which more than one also connects to other species. Linné invented a great thing with those latin double names, letting us know what we really are talking about.
In Denmark we can consult the official book on recommended names:
“Anbefalede plantenavne”.

In east asia the corm is consumed, but only after proper preparation, as it is otherwise toxic. I turns in to a thick gelatine, not melting in the mouth it need thourough chewing. It is healthy, rich in dietary fibers and tasteless! I don’t grow it for the kitchen, but because it’s a pretty and funny potplant.

It overwinters dry in a cupboard at room temperature. In spring it suddenly jumpstarts the growing season. I must watch the corms, and be ready to plunge them deep in a pot, not letting the top of the corm getting dry between waterings. In may I move it to the greenhouse, and in june to the patio. Then the single leaf look like a palm with a spottet trunk.

In nature it grows in seasonal swamps, wet in growing season and dry and hot in resting season. The corm increase in size every year. The small in the photo is from last year, the larger a year older. I propagate it by side corms.

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Leaf is well on it’s way and the leopard spots visible.

Right now the larger corm is in a growth spurt, as seen in the photo.

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Same Leopard Palm, 4 days later!

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And another 16 days later!

After some years size will grow to the size of a sugarbeet. Then it can send up a flower before the leaf:

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Flower of Leopard Palm some years ago

The flower reached a height of 1,5m. It was huge and intensely beautiful, but there is a but!! It has a terrible stinch of rotting meat. Blow-fly is pollinator, attracted by the best smell they know of. We could only take it for three days, then I had to cut the flower and carry it out of the house. The corm I gave away. It grew a huge leaf. I visited the plant, and could stand fully stretched under the leaf.
It’s a wonder of a plant.

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