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Thursday, March 11, 2010

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

Posted By on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge A Klattia partita, photographed atop a remote South African peak - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • 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. 

click to enlarge Martin Grantham and the corpse flower - JOE ESKENAZI
  • 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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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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