A lot has happened since we last updated everyone on Corpse Flower Lois, Houston’s beloved Amorphophallus titanum.
Last time most of you saw her (August 19, 2010) she was being weighed, inspected, re-potted and finally left to go through her dormancy in peace in our greenhouses. We anticipated the dormancy to last about three months before she would put up a new leaf and go into a photosynthetic phase, and in a move very uncharacteristic of our smelly diva, she came out of dormancy right on cue.
In mid November 2010, almost exactly three months after she shed her nearly six foot inflorescence, a new bud began to grow very rapidly from the underground tuber. Just like in the reproductive phase, as the leaf begins to form it is covered by two very large bracts to protect the immature new growth. By the November 16 the bud was already 34” tall and growing over an inch a day. On the 29 of that month the bracts completely fell back to reveal a single 58.5” leaf.
The picture below shows Lois as she looks now, over the past five months the leaf has continued to grow and reached a maximum height of 68”.
View more photos here
The purpose of this massive leaf is to harness as much energy as possible from the sun during this photosynthetic period and restore that energy as mass in the underground tuber. (Which decreased in size by about 25% after putting up the famous 2010 inflorescence.)
We expect her photosynthetic phase is nearing its end and we will begin to see the massive leaf decline in the months to come. After the decline we expect another three month dormancy period, followed by another photosynthetic period. This cycle will continue until the tuber regains enough mass to support another stinky inflorescence.
Until then we will try to keep you up to date with all of Lois’ progress, and the progress of our other adolescent Amorphophallus titanum that has yet to be named.