Author Topic: Amorphophallus Species  (Read 148 times)

Johann Kuntz

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Amorphophallus Species
« on: 2021-03-16, 10:34:09 PM »
Based on a lot of English language literature I had been under the impression that "edible" Amorphophallus species required extensive processing tied up in indigenous knowledge to make them safe to eat due to their content of needle like raphide crystals that cause burning irritation if eaten without first being denatured.  That said, I started finding lots of YouTube videos of people harvesting, prepping, cooking and eating both Amorphophallus paeoniifolius and A. konjac.  Despite most of the videos not being in English it's pretty clear to see that the process typically isn't any more complicated than cleaning, pealing, chopping and then thoroughly cooking in liquid and subsequent seasoning/adding of complimentary ingredients.

With this in mind I feel these species may be worth taking a closer look at.  I have ordered four different cultivars of A. konjac to trial (and possibly cross if I can get flowering at the right time).  A. konjac seems promising because it has already been grown by lots of people in the English speaking world as a garden curiosity/ornamental so there is good info available about how to grow it and it has a reputation for being pretty hardy with some people claiming to overwinter it down to zone 6.  I also ordered seeds of A. paeoniifolius which is apparently less hardy, but I did find a reference from a nursery that said it overwintered for them in pots without protection in zone 8.  I figure if I grow it from seeds rather than just getting a clone I will have some chance to at least see if there's any variation in hardiness between seedlings. 

I've also found that Amorphophallus enthusiasts have been able to do lots of hybridizing between species so there seems to be a fair amount of compatibility that could be used to possibly create larger, more easily propagated, more cold hardy, more wet hardy, etc. selections for food use beyond the regions where they already have agricultural importance.

Here's a link to a YouTube playlist I compiled with the videos I found most informative on the subject of preparing Amorphophallus as food:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlIplu8NipwBsUKMSbvFxd7WCvyfP6TQ9

S.Simonsen

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Re: Amorphophallus Species
« Reply #1 on: 2021-03-18, 05:09:06 PM »
A. paeonifolius grows fine for me in Z9 but it is pretty slow to size up outside of the tropics. The genus is large and seems to be broadly interfertile between species, so I agree there is a lot of potential there, but suspect they would struggle to be productive outside of the tropics. The bigger issue though might be that their flowering is highly dependent on conditions and would be a bit of work to get happening reliably outside the tropics as well. Beyond that getting different forms to flower at the same time would be another big limiter to breeding, and I suspect their pollen would be difficult to store (though that is just a hunch). I gave up on growing/breeding taro and cocoyam in my subtropical location for these reasons. As for processing raphides, the oxalate breaks down with either prolonged heat or short periods of over 100 C in a pressure cooker, or you can extract just the starch grains and discard the raphides with serial water separations.