Tacca chantrieri ‘Green Isle’, alias bat flower

A clever seller, this Myanmar lady at the border market. She quickly responds to my puzzled look at her obscure cuttings and pulls out pictures of the full-grown plants: mesmerizing species of Tacca.
“Madam, this is the white one,” she says, holding up a cutting. In the picture it looks magnificent, larger and flashier than the black variety in my garden. My hesitation dwindles. “I’ll give it a try,” I answer, unconvinced yet hopeful.
Nine months later a bud appears. In a few days, the stalk rises high above the leaves, and reveals its real identity: green!

September 2017, by Karolien Bais


Plants can be equally striking for their smell or stench, their stubbornness or benevolence, their secrecy or exuberance. Whatever their features, they can make my day.
Here are some of my doozies.

Couroupita guianensis, alias cannonball tree

Amherstia nobilis, alias Pride of Burma

Dendrobium crumenatum, alias pigeon orchid

Gloriosa superba, alias juju lily

Eucharis grandiflora, alias Amazon lily

Murraya koenigii, alias curry leaf

Scadoxus multiflorus, alias blood lily

Rothmannia longiflora, alias ivory trumpet

Furcraea selloa, alias false agave

Tacca chantrieri, alias bat flower

Bauhinia pottsii, alias orchid tree