May 23rd, 2016

Black Bat Flower Inspiration

The Mysterious Black Bat Flower Inspires Visitors & Artists

Black Bat Flower, Tacca chantrieri

The Black Bat Flower, Tacca chantrieri, blooming now in East Wing of the Conservatory in the shade of the red banana tree.

A few days ago, Conservatory Horticulturist Chelsea Mahaffey sent me an excited email that our Tacca chantrieri or black bat flower was blooming. When I posted the photo of the flower on Facebook  people became really excited.  We had several questions from fans about how to grow them, and sweetly, one Facebook fan was going to plant one in honor of a beloved black cat.  Yes, it’s quite an unusual looking bloom!

The coloring of deep chocolate to black with bright green highlights is unique for a flower. But it’s not a rare plant – its simply one that isn’t typically seen often because it’s more suited to a humid, tropical environment like Florida (or our Conservatory.)  Originally native to southern Asia, The American Journal of Botany suggests that we may soon find the black bat flower outside of their native habitat. “Tacca species have become increasingly popular in the horticultural trade because of their bizarre reproductive morphology.” Each black bat flower can last last from five to seven weeks and each Tacca chantrieri plant can produce six to 12 flowers in one season. Read: there’s more to come!

This beauty is continuing to turn heads! With over 100 shares on Facebook, the black bat flower is inspiring comments like:  “I also shared the photo with a friend yesterday. We both learned about a flower we never heard of before! Thank you   😊”  My favorite of all is this pen and ink drawing from Tracy Rose, an art teacher for the Buffalo Public Schools in Buffalo, NY. She was tagged on the photo by a friend  and quickly inspired to draw this sketch while sitting in a conference.

What do you think of our wild and whiskery bat flower?

Pen and ink drawing by Tracy Rose of a black bat flower or Tacca

Pen and ink drawing by Tracy Rose of a black bat flower.



Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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