Cat’s Whiskers

Kids, scream.
Parents, panic.
Teens, admire.
Botanists, love.
Mom, proud.
All emotions could be traced back to a single flower.
A flower?


The Cat’s Whiskers are growing happily in our home garden for many years with regular watering and lots of love. Growing in a slope with adequate drainage, one can find flowers most of the time. Dark purple almost to the point of being mistaken for Black, this ornamental flowering plant is among the showiest of the Tacca chantrieri plant family (part of the yam family).

Common names are:
Black Bat Flower
Bat Head Lily
Cat’s Whiskers
Tacca chantrieri

Cloaking the flowers from above are several broad and showy bracts (modified leaves), the flowers hang in umbels underneath. The long bracts that emanate from the flower scape to form the whiskers. The “whiskers” are actually filiform bracteoles or small bracts which hang down from the flowers and are up to 20 cm (8”) long.

The neighborhood cats, however, are said to be a bit cross with the flowers as they see some tough competition coming in their direction. But then, don’t we all know much a cat would really care.


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