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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Alocasia amazonica

Any plant with the specific name amazonica always has an air of the exotic about it, but the truth is that this attractive houseplant has no links with the Amazon or South America. Strangely, it's sometimes known as elephant's ears or African mask plant - and it has no links with Africa, either. It's a hybrid between two species from the other side of the planet, A. sanderiana from the Philippines and A. lowii from Borneo. I've no idea why it acquired the epithet amazonica. It makes a very striking houseplant , although once it blooms it tends to lose some of its symmetry. I always think that cowled inflorescence and ribbed, shield-shaped leaf give it an air of menace; it has a hint of voodoo or witchcraft about it, which I guess is where the name African mask plant originated.