Exotic Plant That Has Never Flowered in Cultivation About to Bloom at S.F. State

Categories: Science
Martin Grantham
A Klattia partita, photographed atop a remote South African peak
Much of a greenhouse manager's work probably wouldn't translate well into a movie scene; film montages of potting, pruning, and watering aren't for everyone. But when San Francisco State's Martin Grantham was scurrying up a remote South African peak to recover seeds to a plant he believes no one else has ever successfully cultivated? You've got to admit -- that's primo stuff.

Now Grantham's Klattia partita is about to bloom -- which is something of a horticultural achievement. 

Joe Eskenazi
Martin Grantham and the corpse flower
"I'd been looking for it for quite a few years. But the only population I found producing seeds was on 10 o'clock Peak," he says. South Africa's Langeberg Mountains, apparently, have a number of peaks named after times of the day. "Certainly, no one has ever grown this plant."

San Francisco's cool, foggy weather patterns, however, turned out to be remarkably similar to those atop a remote South African mountain.

The two-foot-tall plant is a cousin of the iris. Grantham hopes its purplish-black flowers will be visible in this week or the next. 

If so, it'd be a second notable blooming at the San Francisco State greenhouse in recent months. Last summer, the school's corpse flower had a coming-out party. The pending bloom, undoubtedly, would be a less pungent affair, if no less momentous.

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