Take one look at the Bat Flower and you’ll see how it got its nickname. This purple-black flower, which can grow up to 12 inches across, resembles a flying bat. Cats Whiskers and Devil Flower are another names of this plant.
It also has distinctive, long whisker-like filaments that can grow up to 28 inches. While black bat flowers seem to be more common, there are plants that produce white or brown flowers. Though the flowers are the showstoppers, the large, dark green leaves can be quite attractive. After flowering, berries contain numerous small seeds, are produced.
The Bat Flower is a tropical plant that is native to tropical rainforests and jungles of Southeast Asia. Tacca chantrierei is native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia, and southern China: particularly Yunnan Province. It is a member of the Dioscoreaceae family, which includes the yam.
While Bat Flowers are not the easiest plants to grow, they will definitely make a statement in the garden or in your home as a houseplant. As it is a tropical plant, it does best in warm climates. Those that live in cooler climates can grow this plant in a greenhouse. But remember, as it is a jungle plant it grows best in shaded areas but does better outdoors (in temperate climate) than in the stillness of a greenhouse where it dislikes the lack of breeze.
They do best in well-drained, porous soil. High humidity is essential for its survival. Plant in the shade with indirect light. Keep soil moist, but not too wet.
Tacca can be propagated by root division or – if you are very patient – by using the seeds. The plant flowers usually after it has produced three or four full sized leaves. Each plant can produce between six and twelve flower stems from late spring to August.
When the seed capsules appear, they too look somewhat alien. They must be left where they are on the plant until they split – and this can take up to eighteen months. Once the seeds are cleaned of the pulp and air dried they can be planted. However, they can take almost a year to germinate – so they are not for the impatient gardener by any means.
A much rarer relative of the Black Bat Flower is the White Bat Flower. Which one do you think is spookier?
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Do you grow The Black Bat Flower or Tacca Chantrieri in your garden? What is your experience with this plant? Please share in the comments below!
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