Tacca integrifolia, Batflower seeds
Tacca integrifolia belongs to the family of the Dioscoraceae. It is also known as batflower or devilflower because some people think that the flower just looks like a bat or the face of a devil. It is native to Southeast Asia.
T. integrifolia is an herbaceous plant that reaches a height of 90 cm. The leaves can get 60 cm long, they are oval and glossy. The venation of the leaves is reticulate which is unusual for monocots that have mostly a parallel venation. The lamina is undivided; there are as well species that have a divided lamina, for example Tacca leontopetaloide
The inflorescence is an umbel on a flower stalk and stands clearly over the leaves. The inflorescence is made up of two or more bracts and the purple flowers. They are actinomorphic, hermaphrodites and look like bells. T. integrifolia has long filamentous appendages. They can get up to half a meter long and give the plant its special look.
T. integrifolia brings up the question why it has such a complex flower while being self fertile. Logically it should need a big flower to attract potential pollinators. But until yet this is her secret. One suggests that maybe bats and diptera are pollinating the plant in addition.
The fruit is a capsule that includes the seeds. The seeds can be easily removed from the capsule if it is dry. If the capsule falls down being still moist and fleshy one should wait until it is dry and then remove the seeds. The seeds are brownish, small and thin. In Thai medicine it is used to control the blood circulation. The rhizome shall have an aphrodisiac effect.
The seeds have to be put in warm or hot water for 24 h before planting. After that they can be sprinkled with just a little bit of the substrate. It is important that the substrate is permeable to air. The substrate should be kept moist all the time. Germination occurs after 8 to 12 weeks, but it can also last much longer, up to several months. T. integrifolia blooms 3 to 4 months. If one has successfully planted T. integrifolia one can reproduce her by dividing the rhizome, too.
T. integrifolia is a plant of the under storey of the rainforest. Due to this fact one should place it shady. It also likes a high air moisture.