Aroids forum: Suggestions pollinating Alocasia odora, recognizing changes in female flowers?

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Jul 28, 2016 3:04 PM CST
Warning: I'm a general plant newbie and this container Alocasia odora is my first and only aroid.

It's been growing well, and last week I noticed an inflorescence shooting up. From the web, I get top to bottom appendix, male, sterile, female (respectively), with a restriction blocking the female at least so only authorized natively pollinating beetles(?) can transfer pollen - and perhaps only at the right time and from non-self males (possible physical or temporal blocks to self-fertilization).

So for fun, as per some online notes, cut open the restriction so as to, maybe, permit pollen from the top to reach the female flowers at the bottom. After the spathe opened, and lacking knowledge to recognize if either male or female were ready, I washed or brushed the spadix from the top down on about three consecutive days.

Today I noticed the female area had greened (last photo). Would you know if this change means that they were fertilized? Or perhaps that they are only now receptive? Or ?

There's a second inflorescence on the way. So I have a second chance... Any other suggestions for such assisted reproduction would be appreciated.

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[Last edited by crick1_z5a - Jul 28, 2016 3:12 PM (+)]
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Name: Lin
East Central Florida (Zone 9b)

Region: United States of America Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Procrastinator
Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener Houseplants
Jul 28, 2016 8:15 PM CST
Welcome! crick1_z5a

I don't know a thing about propagating or pollinating Giant Upright Elephant Ear (Alocasia odora) but I'm sure some of our more knowledgeable growers will be able to offer advice. Good luck with your scientific experiment ... I hope you get babies! Thumbs up
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~

Jul 29, 2016 11:34 AM CST
Thanks for the kind welcome, and good wishes. And, well, if the name of the forum mod is any indication, there surely must be some deep Aroid expertise around here.
[Last edited by crick1_z5a - Jul 29, 2016 11:34 AM (+)]
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Name: LariAnn Garner
south Florida, USA
When in doubt, do the cross!
Forum moderator Pollen collector Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Aroids Seed Starter
Foliage Fan Region: Florida Tropicals Container Gardener
Aug 11, 2016 4:11 AM CST


Having hybridized Alocasia plants for many years, I can offer some tips. A. odora blooms, like all Alocasias, are female-receptive first. By the time you see pollen, the female blooms are no longer receptive. That's why, unless I have several plants blooming on staggered cycles, I cannot do anything with the very first bloom except to collect pollen for future work. When the second bloom first opens, I start putting saved pollen on the female blooms. To access them, I (carefully) cut away some of the spathe surrounding the female blooms and then I dust them up with pollen. I've noticed that bees will come around and steal pollen from A. odora blooms - I've also noticed tiny ants running away with pollen from the Alocasia macrorrhizos types, particularly the "blackstem" mac.

Pollen can be saved for about a week in small glass vials with silica gel beads in them to keep the pollen dry = store them in the fridge, label and date them so you know when they "expire".

The blooming cycle starts with female receptivity, then a short time non-receptive, then pollen drops. How long each stage lasts depends on several factors, but the most important factor is ambient temperature. Cool days and nights can prolong the receptive period, while very warm days and nights can accelerate the move to non-receptivity.

Hope this helps!
Be the Captain of What's Gonna Happen!

Aug 13, 2016 4:16 PM CST
Thank you LariAnn; Aroid tips from you are most appreciated and helpful! (Recently had begun researching Aroids online, and have become quite aware of your years of work, particularly in the field of hybridization.)

Very informative detail on the sequence of reproductive events specific to A. odora. I'll be ready to try again next year (hopefully with more than one plant). (Wonder if the local ants you've observed can pollinate by accident - been finding such interesting general facts about related inflorescences - it looks like it's native flies, not beetles, and that they may even be thermogenic at certain stages.)

After enjoying the (continuing and vigorous) growth of this one plant (from a "bulb"), I've been getting more curious about similar Aroids. Googling for house-plant sized members of the family to consider in the future, came across Alocasia 'Tiny Dancers' (which seems to have originated from Aroidia Research :).

But I'm not sure whether it would be suitable for year-round indoors (in 5a at ~ 43˚N), as I do not have access to a decently sunny windowsill, and am a bit concerned that some online comments implied it was difficult to grow, finicky, or that it was lost in a few months - but the brief remarks are hard to evaluate since no details whatsoever were provided.
[Last edited by crick1_z5a - Aug 13, 2016 4:50 PM (+)]
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