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Amorphophallus means "shapeless phallus."
English: Amorphallus konjac
German: Teufelszunge, Titanenwurz
It was the Allen Laboratories who prepared the mother tincture, using the stem, the flower and the rhizome, for the symptomatological study.
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Monocotyledonae; Arecidae / Spadiciflorae; Arales; Araceae - Arum / Philodendron Family
The botanic study was made by Dr. A. Ramirez Laguna and V. Estrada Alvarez, who gave it the name Amorphophallus Titanum. The proving was the work of Dr. Proceso Sanchez Ortega of the 'Ecole Libre d'Homeopathie', and the Societe' Médicale Homeopathique 'E. D. Flores'.
Description of the substance
The plant genus Amorphophallus (Hetterscheid, 1994) belongs to the family Araceae (aroid family) and is estimated to encompass some 170 species. These are spread mainly in the tropics from West Africa eastward into Polynesia. None are found in the neotropics. They mostly grow in secondary forests or disturbed spots in primary forests and forest margins. Most are typical lowland plants.
Amorphophallus species are herbs with an underground storage organ. This is usually a tuber. One single leaf emerges from the tuber, consisting of a vertical petiole (stalk) and a horizontal leaf-blade. The latter is dissected into few or numerous small leaflets. Once plants are mature an inflorescence may develop. The inflorescence may replace the leaf in one season, or develop alongside it. As is typical for all other Araceae, the inflorescence consists of a foliar organ, the spathe, which usually envelops a stalk-like organ, the spadix. The actual flowers are tiny and strongly reduced and are found at the base of the spadix. The female flowers form the most basal zone and are each reduced to a mere pistil. Typical pollinator attracting organs (like a corolla) are absent. Above this zone is found a zone of highly reduced male flowers. They only exist of a group of stamens. The remainder of the spadix usually is sterile, lacking flowers, and is called the appendix. This entire structure, the spadix and the spathe, seems to work as one large "flower" and obviously acts as a unitary structure to attract pollinators, a feature lost by the actual individual flowers (Hay and Mabberley, 1991). After successful pollination most parts of the spathe wither and drop off, after which the individual female flowers develop into berries, containing the seeds. These berries are usually red or orange-red, but occasionally blue, white, or yellow-and- white. The berries are eaten by birds, although only few reliable observations exist (Hetterscheid, 1995).
Also few observations exist on (potential) Amorphophallus pollination (e.g. v.d. Pijl, 1937; Sivadasan and Sabu, 1991, Singh and Gadgil, 1996). In fact they mostly pertain to observing insects inside the spathe and whether they are actually effectively pollinating the flowers is not known (except by Sivadasan and Sabu, 1991). The spathe, having a cup-like base, may seem to be an insect-trap, although only part of the species seem to have their base so structured as to be an effective trap. Some of these have a strong constriction above the base, preventing insects from climbing out. A few others possess zones with hair-like organs, seemingly blocking the way out. The trapping of the pollinators is necessary for effective pollination from one flowering plant to another.
When the spathe opens the female flowers are receptive and must be pollinated that same day. The opening inflorescence emits an attractant scent. In Amorphophallus this scent has diversified considerably. In most species the scent is anything but pleasant, and reminds one of varieties of death, decay, sewage, gas and the like. A few species develop a scent that is actually pleasant to the human nose (e.g. carrot-like, anise, chocolate, fruity, lemon). The wide array of scents is presently analyzed chemically (Kite & Hetterscheid, 1997). Along with the fabric of these scents, parts of the spadix heat up considerably, notably the male zone and the appendix (Skubatch et al., 1990). Whether this helps volatilizing the chemicals that make up the scent, or works as an infrared attractant itself, or maybe both, is unknown. The illusion of death is supported in many species by dark brownish and brownish-purple colours, imitating decaying animals. Some species even posses hairs on the appendix, creating the illusion of a dead hairy mammal.
Once the insects have entered the spathe, they proceed downwards (or just drop) to the female zone where they can deposit pollen on the female flowers that they carried in from visiting another inflorescence. On this first day of flowering, the female flowers are receptive, whereas the male flowers are still closed and will not open until the next day, when the female flowers are no longer receptive. The insects therefore have to stay overnight to carry pollen away from the inflorescence. There seem to be several solutions presented to keep the insects in place. Important seems to be to provide for food. For this, Amorphophallus species either possess fleshy warts at the base of the spathe, or special organs are developed on the spadix. The latter are strongly modified male flowers (so called staminodes), that have lost the capacity to produce pollen but are transformed into protein-rich food bodies (Sivadasan & Sabu, 1991). Also, the appendix may serve as a food storage (Singh & Gadgil, 1996).
The next day, the male flowers open and a veritable rain of sticky pollen descends on the insects, still "trapped" in the base, after which they are released and may enter yet another inflorescence to pollinate.
Habit: Small to massive terrestrial plants, herbaceous; stem subterraneous, tuberous, rarely a chain of tubers or rhizomatous; tuber globose, subglobose, depressed-globose, saucer-shaped or vertically elongate and then unbranched or branched, representing one module and being renewed each season; chains consisting of tubers not being renewed every season; rhizomes long, terete, creeping, horizontal, consisting of several modules; offset-development absent, seasonal or gradual; offsets globose, spindle-shaped, shortly elongate or rhizomatous.
Leaves: Leaf usually solitary, rarely paired, emerging from the top of the tuber or rhizome, lasting one growing-season or rarely long-lasting.
Petiole: Petiole terete, rarely angulate, smooth, shallowly grooved or partly rugulose, rarely entirely verrucate or hairy, unicolorous or variously blotched.
Lamina: Lamina decompound and divided in three main branches; main branches equally long or the anterior main branch shorter than the posterior main branches (subpedate); rhachises unbranched, overtopped or once or more pseudodichotomously branched; secondary rhachises simple or variously branched; rhachises naked, narrowly or broadly winged and often carrying supernumerary leaflets on the proximal parts; sometimes bulbils develop on the leaves, either epiphyllar, intercalary or half-epiphyllar; distal leaflets obovate, elliptic, elongate-elliptic, elongate, oblong, lanceolate or linear, sessile or rarely petiolulate, base often asymmetric and decurrent on one side, apex acute, acuminate or rarely caudate, margin entire rarely erose, often undulate, upper side green or dark green, rarely with reddish margin or variegation.
Inflorescence: Inflorescence epigeal, rarely partly buried, solitary or simultaneous with or directly preceeding leaf development, rarely emerging after leaf development.
Peduncle: Peduncle short or long, often sculptured and patterned as petiole, when short often elongating in fruit.
Spathe: Spathe elongate-triangular, triangular or ovate to broadly ovate, variously shaped, often cymbiform or campanulate, more rarely funnel-shaped, outside variously colored but often shades of brownish-purple or whitish-green, inside mostly paler than outside but base within often dark maroon; base convolute, rarely open or connate, not or clearly separated from the limb by a constriction, oval, rounded, urceolate or funnel-shaped in longitudinal section, inside smooth or clothed with ridges or warts, the latter small or large, short or hairlike, sometimes forming ridges; limb rimshaped or broadly or elongate triangular, erect, spreading, oblique, or fornicate, margin entire or rarely lobed, flat, undulate or rarely plicate, apex acute, rarely acuminate or rarely caudate.
Spadix: Spadix sessile or shortly stipitate, shorter than, equalling or longer than spathe; female zone cylindric, fusiform, conic or obconic, contiguous with male zone or separated by a sterile zone, flowers congested or rarely distant, sometimes surrounded by staminodes; sterile zone consisting of staminodes, rarely mixed with pistillodes, rarely partly or entirely naked; male zone cylindric, fusiform, conic or obconic, flowers congested, rarely distant, often variously fused in the upper part of the zone, sometimes fused into vertical rows or helically or verticillate, sometimes mixed with staminodes; appendix rarely absent, contiguous with male zone or separated by a constriction or a short stipe, erect, rarely horizontal, arching, nodding or pendulous, outline conic, fusiform, triangular, myosuroid, ovate, subglobose or globose, sometimes with large longitudinal folds or deep cracks, surface smooth, rugulose, or with distinct, variously shaped staminodes, often only at the base, often warming up during female anthesis and spreading strong scents, sometimes emitting droplets of a clear fluid, apex acute or obtuse, wall thin or massive, inside a narrow canal or a large cavity.
Female Flowers: Female flowers consisting of one pistil; ovary sessile or shortly stipitate, globose, subglobose, depressed or ovate, rounded or angulate in cross-section, 1-, 2-, 3-, or 4-locular, one ovule per locule, basifixed, or rarely axillary circa halfway up the ovary; style present or absent, cylindric or rarely slightly conic or obconic, clearly separated from the ovary or less so, equalling or shorter or longer than ovary, sometimes with apical projections extending beyond the stigma; stigma indistinct or large, terminal or rarely subterminal, globose, hemispheric, concave or flattened, entire or variously lobed, surface spongy, papillate, scabrate or echinate, during anthesis covered with a sticky fluid.
Male Flowers: Male flowers consisting of (1-) 3 to 6 (-8) stamens; stamens depressed or elongate; filaments present or nearly absent, massive or rarely thin, separate or partly or entirely fused within one flower.
Anthers: Anthers short or elongate, rarely subglobose or globose, truncate, rarely rounded, connective indistinct or massive, sometimes with one or more projections, pores apical, rarely lateral or subterminal, rounded, reniform or elongate; staminodes of sterile zone shield-like, globose or hairlike, those on the appendix shield-like, hairlike, rounded or conic warts, echinae, sulci or papillae.
Pollen: Pollen globose or elliptic, exine rarely absent, psilate, striate, foveolate, etc.
Infructescence: Infructescence usually long-peduncled, rarely short-peduncled; fruiting part globose or elongate; berries globose or elongate, red, orange-red, white, white-and-yellow, blue.
Seed: Seeds globose, subglobose, ovate, elliptic, usually with a distinct raphe
The two major primary pests of Amorphophallus in cultivation are nematodes and root mealy bugs. Root mealy bugs are similar in appearance to mealy bugs and they are very resistant to most superficial chemical pesticides. No biological control mechanism yet exists. Therefore, the best method is using a systemic pesticide with a broad activity spectrum. Unfortunately such pesticides are usually rather unhealthy for humans. The most effective has proven to be Temik, as well as the partially systemic pesticide Vydate, but must be given in small doses because leaf damage may occur. Both pesticides can also be used preventively. Nematodes can only be effectively fought off with strong methods like using Temik. The infections are easily recognized in their early stages as small to medium-sized, hemispheric warts/bumps on the tuber surface, not associated with root scars or accessory buds. When cut, they show a dirty pale grayish center, consisting of cells that are greatly enlarged and contain a great amount of water. In the middle of this bump resides the female nematode filled with young specimens. The female nematode is dissolved and releases the young ones, who feed on the watery tissue of the bump. After this, the bump implodes and becomes a crater, which is attacked by other secondary pests (acarids, fungi, bacteria). The released nematodes reinfect the newly developing tuber and destroy it, or damage it beyond rescue. All bumps on an infected tuber must be cut away and the tuber then put in a Temik solution. After that it must be left to dry and must be regularly inspected for desiccation or new infections. When planted, the soil must be mixed with Temik before planting. This treatment must be repeated for two or three seasons, after which the infection is usually conquered.