Common Name: Bat Flower, Devil’s Flower
Scientific Name: Tacca chantrieri
This is one extremely unusual looking flower! The Bat Flower is a member of the Dioscoreaceae family (which includes the yam) and is native to tropical parts of Southeast Asia.
One look at the Bat Flower and you’ll see how it got its common name. The dark bracts and long filaments, which can grow to 70 cm, ending in a “forked tail,” give the plant its bat-like appearance.
While the appearance is unusual, yet captivating, don’t look at this plant for too long. Some people believe that the strange “eyes” will follow you around the room. For the superstitious, it is considered bad luck to look into the eyes of Tacca chantrieri, as it is thought to bring death closer to you or a family member.
Bat Flowers are typically purple-black, but they also come in green, maroon , and brown/bronze. Plants can reach up to 36″ tall. The bat-like flowers are large, up to 12″ across. The filaments or whiskers can grow up to 28″ long. The blooming period for the Bat Flower is late spring to early fall.
This tropical plant grows best in well-drained soil and high humidity, but is surprisingly hardy to 8 C. In our Canadian climate, they are best suited as an indoor potted plant. Keep it close to a sunny window but still out of direct sunlight. Water regularly, but do not let this plant dry out between watering or over water.
Bat Flower can be started from seed or by splitting the rhizomes at re-potting time in the spring. Starting from seed can be difficult and is not recommended for the beginning gardener.