Thursday, December 17, 2009

Trip Report: Aroid enthusiasts meeting

I have been collecting Aroids for about a year now and just recently joined the International Aroid Society.  Upon joined the IAS, I promptly began forming a local chapter.  The MidAmerica chapter of the IAS had our first meeting on November 21 at the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City.

Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City - photo courtesy Dr. Tom Croat

The first meeting was a small gathering, but still included two members from out of state.  Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Gardens attended.  He is one of the premier researchers in the family of Araceae (Aroids).  Steve Lucas is a collector and the creator of, a wonderful enclosed "rainforest" in northwestern Arkansas.  Another member of the IAS, Russell Gaines, attended who is a resident of Oklahoma City.

MidAmerica chapter group (Janice Lucas, Brad Lucas, Russell Gaines, guide Kenton Peters, Zach DuFran, Christie DuFran, Cheryl Ponder, Dr. Tom Croat, Ron Ponder, Steve Lucas) - photo courtesy Dr. Tom Croat, taken by innocent bystander.
The meeting consisted of a wonderful tour of the Myriad Garden's conservatory, which houses thousands of tropical and succulent plants.  The tour was supposed to last an hour but went much longer than that.  Kenton Peters was a very patient and enthusiastic guide, telling us about the many living treasures in the Myriad's collection and also asking some questions of the group members with expertise in Aroids.

Group surveying the wonderful Anthuriums.
After the tour was complete, we had a short sit down meeting where we exchanged some plants and cuttings that Steve and Dr. Croat had brought to the meeting.  Dr. Croat brought plants from the MOBOT which were collected in the rainforests of Central America.  Each plant is tagged with an accession number, which can be used to look up the collection notes on the Tropicos website.  The notes will include a description of the plant in the wild, a description of the terrain and vegetation where the plant was collected and the latitude and longitude coordinates so that you can look up the exact location on a map.

Discussion and plant trading after the tour.
Steve has a wonderful collection of beautiful tropical plants and brought cuttings of about 8 different plants.  Steve is currently working with Dr. Croat to write the scientific description of a plant which is thought to be a newly discovered species of Philodendron.  Steve bought the plant from a seller (Ecuagenera) at the 2009 IAS Show and Sale in Miami.

The meeting, while small, was a great success.  I think that all attendees really enjoyed the Myriad Gardens and had not even heard of it before.  Clearly, the Myriad Gardens is under-promoted.

Dr. Croat gave some of the plants to our tour guide, Kenton Peters, so that they could be added to the collection of the Myriad Gardens.  We're hoping that, as a group, we can help boost the collection of Aroids at the Myriad.  Already, there is a nice collection of Aroids, with some very nice specimens of large and beautiful Anthuriums (one pictured above).  However, some plants are mis-marked or not marked at all.  I plan to start volunteering at the Myriad Gardens next week.  Kenton says that I might be able to help him with the bonsai collection and will begin my work by helping to prune away or pick up the dead leaves.  This might sound like menial work, but I can't wait to spend a day in the gardens, working among the  plants.

More pictures from the trip are posted on the IAS website.  See them here.

The next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, April 24th at the Missouri Botanical Gardens (MOBOT) in St. Louis, Missouri.  Dr. Tom Croat will give a talk about his research and will also lead a tour of the research collection of Aroids housed at the MOBOT.  We're aiming to have a much larger gathering at this meeting.  All plant enthusiasts are encouraged to come and enjoy this time of discussion and discovery!


  1. Oh, it sounded wonderful and I am very excited about the individuals who were able to make the first meeting. Know you will love your work at the Myriad, as it is such a beautiful place. Do I foresee an expansion of your current greenhouse in the plans? :-)

  2. Hi Zach, this is exciting to read about and I know you were excited to attend. Good deal on the plants, and the Myriad sounds like a fabulous place. I was born and raised in Tulsa, BTW, but have not lived there for more than thirty five years. :-)