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Stone Jaguar

Hydnophytum sp. Halmahera, North Maluku

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It's interesting to see such remarkable Hydnophytum spp. from this island.

I'll add another. This is obviously part of the Ovatum group published online today by Jebb and Huxley, but its stems and  leaves differ from the three Malukan species shown, and the flowers differ from the illustration of a corolla of Hydnophytum tortuosum from the Papuan mainland. Despite floral differences, I assume that this species is closest to H. tortuosum.

This is a massively-caudexed species, a seedling of which was collected more than a decade ago by an anonymous friend in SE Asia. In 2016, a small, unrooted branch was provided to me and imported courtesy of other friends at a US public garden that did me the favor of piggy-backing duplicates of several small hydnophytines on their permits as part of a large collection of exotic tropicals they had acquired in the region. Fortunately, I was able to root the branch and, over the past year and with considerable manipulation, grow it out and generate a few viable seeds from it. I now have two large seedlings of this species in cultivation in California, together with the original branch.

I am not able to share images of the wild plants due to privacy requests by their owner, but his photos show it growing exposed in high canopy, adpressed to a tree trunk. Caudexes are very large, light gray in color, mostly smooth with angular ridges running down the caudex. Leaves are sometimes orbicular and can be palm-sized when well cultivated.

The fruit has a lengthy ripening period (~eight months). The seedlings have very large leaves and caudexes for their size and, leaves apart, have a growth habit much more similar to the radicans-types than moseleyanum-types. Unsurprisingly, cold sensitive but not to the degree one would expect.


Medium-sized leaf showing very distinct veins shown above. Leaves can be almost twice this size and perfectly round when conditions are to its liking. While not the longest lamina in the genus, perhaps one of the widest.


Stem with leaves removed, showing terete to winged/angular transition basally to apically in each section.


Detail of flowers and developing fruit shown above. Almost all of this will abort soon. First ripe fruit shown I generated is shown below. All have been two-seeded.






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