Battle Royale

The battlefield: calla lily vs. mystery colonizer

I’ve begun to see biodiversity and ecology everywhere, even in my kitchen. No, I’m not talking about what ecosystems have sprung up in those month-old house party leftovers…. It’s a slightly more traditionally ecology-y place: in a flower pot.

This story beings last Valentine’s Day, when I was given a lovely potted calla lily by a certain gentleman. Fun facts about calla lilies:

1) It’s not a lily, though it does look like one. It is actually in a different genus (scientific name: Zantedeschia aethiopica).

2) It grows from a rhizome, which is like a bulb. (“Hey, there are potatoes in your soil!” exclaimed my roommate one day.)

3) It can become an invasive weed, although it is unlikely to in arid Arizona.

4) A brief search of Web of Science (a database of scientific peer-reviewed journals that I have access to through the University) reveals that they are studied ecologically as a native part of African wetlands, and that like many ornamental and commercial plants, there is ample research on their genetics and pathogens (diseases) that can affect them.

After the original stalk wilted and died back, I continued to water the soil, and place it in sunny spots. (I wonder if the certain gentleman believed I had carelessly let it die?) Eventually, something sprouted and grew. But it wasn’t the calla lily! Now the calla lily is sprouting again, sending up numerous leafy stalks from several rhizomes.

If I want the lily to live, I should remove the extra rhizomes and the other plant. After all, if they get any bigger, they will be in mortal competition. As it is, they are likely to be competing already. And, like any sports fan, I am kind of interested to see how this plays out.

Who do you think will win?

So my questions for you are: Who do you think the mystery plant is? (And where did she come from?)  Which plant do you think will win? Would you put money on that?

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