Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Titan Arum

This is what my daughter and I did on our way to my brother's place for Christmas lunch.

We had to drive from Geelong to Ringwood so it was easy to leave a bit earlier and on the way visit the Tropical Glasshouse at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Why? To see the flowering Titan Arum Amorphophallus titanum.

Quote from an information board in the glasshouse: After seven years of careful nurturing by Royal Botanic Gardens' staff the stunning Titan Arum, also known as Corspe Flower, is expected to reach full bloom during the week of Christmas. This extraordinary plant has the world's largest unbranched inflorescence, featuring a cluster of small flowers inside the base. The exact day of the bloom is difficult to determine, however once flowering the inflorescence may only last two or three days before collapsing... the Titan Arum is currently growing at a rate of 10+ cm a day and is expected to reach a height of 2-3 metres in height.

My six-foot-tall daughter standing next to the inflorescence spike.
The flower has not yer opened. You can see that the inside of the frilled skirt that is yet to drop is deep purple and it doesn't have any odour as yet. Look carefully at the photo above. The tall green plant to the right of the picture is in fact another specimen of the Titan Arum but is at an earlier stage of development. That plant will die down and then the bulb will be dormant for possibly years before the flower spike emerges.

To keep tabs on the status of the flower the Botanic Gardens' Facebook page has the best information. And here's what it will look like when it opens in the next day or so.

Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison
It was a bit tricky getting good photos of the plant. Too many people, and the high humidity in the warm glasshouse kept fogging up the lens on my camera!

Update: Flowered Boxing Day, 26/12/2012

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Lake Victoria

Find Emily Street, Point Lonsdale on Victoria's southern coast. Go right to the end, where there is a small carpark, and walk through the gate. The walking track takes you right out between the shallow waters and roosting areas of Lake Victoria that wading birds love.

We were there yesterday because it is one of our stops on the annual Challenge Count. There were a lot of birds there--LBJs (little brown birds such as Curlew Sandpipers and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers), Banded Stilts, ducks (including a single Freckled Duck), swans, dots (Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels), pelican and spoonbills. It's heaven for a birdwatcher.

Mystery objects, Lake Victoria ...

... and the more normal view of juvenile and adult  Banded Stilts.
PS Best bird, for me, on the Challenge Count was a small flock of delightful Horsfield's Bushlarks singing and occasionally flying in grassland at Connewarre. Thank goodness it wasn't up to me to identify them. I had no idea, but others in our group knew what they were.