Two of the most iconic flowering plants in nature are flowering this weekend in the UWM Biological Sciences Greenhouse. These extraordinary plants are not to be missed, and will hopefully still be flowering today. In the meantime, here are some photos taken by Dr. Jeffery Karron Saturday afternoon.
Darwin’s orchid, Angraecum sesquipedale, is endemic to the eastern coast of Madagascar. The flowers have a nectar spur up to 35 cm long. Darwin hypothesized in 1862 that this species was pollinated by a hawkmoth with an exceptionally long tongue. However in 1862 no known hawkmoth had a tongue that long. The hawkmoth was not discovered until 41 years later, following Darwin’s death. The moth, Xanthopan morganii praedicta, is the only known pollinator of Angraecum sesquipedale.
The Voodoo lily, Amorphophallus konjac, also known as Devil’s tongue and dragon plant, is native to subtropical regions of Vietnam, Japan, Southern China and Indonesia. A member of the Araceae, the spathe and spadix of this massive flower can be up to 55 cm long! The flowers smell like rotting meat … the carrion scent attracts flies that pollinate the short-lived flowers.
Special thanks to Paul Engevold and Tom Schuck for these extraordinary and unusual specimens … just 2 of the more than 640 species in our remarkable greenhouse facility.