A specimen we started from seed less than 6 months ago is now flowering under the skilled hand and watchful eye of new owner Glenn Bradford. This timeline calls into question points of prevalent indoctrination within the American growing community regarding the age of kratom maturity. Read on for more fun info and challenge your pre-conceptions.
The Sexy Kratom Flower
Do you like flowers that look like something from a Star Trek episode? Well of course you do. You're a person of intellect, whimsy and impeccable taste. The flower of the mitragyna speciosa tree is, to put it bluntly, a sex organ. What makes kratom quite interesting is that the flowers are bisexual. They contain both male and female parts. This means that a single kratom tree can theoretically fertilize itself, although some species adopt built-in barriers to self-fertilization because it does not evolve or adapt the species. Cross pollination between trees with different genetics upholds the highest natural law because it yields genetic variation and continues to adapt and strengthen the species.
Once again we're talking about the power of genetic diversity.
In America, where most everyone has identical cuttings of the same one or two clones, breeding genetically diverse kratom trees would be a giant leap toward adapting and sustaining Western kratom agriculture, giving passionate plant-lovers real potential to shape the future of the species on this continent.
The most ideal location for growing kratom outdoors in the United States is in the jungles of the Hawaiian islands, and we recently sent a collection of genetically diverse specimens to a sacred medicine retreat on the Big Island with high hopes for future growth. There in the topics, little adaptation is required of the species, considering both environmental similarity and proximity to southeast Asia.
But a growing number of Americans are proving that kratom can be grown with great success in completely non-traditional environments. The myths from years ago designed to discourage growing here have been debunked. Although the species does not tolerate freezing temperatures, it can adapt to a variety of moderate climates, and can be cultivated indoors, or in mixed indoor-outdoor arrangements, with the help of modern technology and alternative growing methods.
One man named Glenn Bradford, who hails from the Arizona desert, is living proof that kratom is far more resilient and persistent than some would lead us to believe. Bradford, an experienced grower with a penchant for the unusual and exotic, ordered three standard mitragyna speciosa specimens from Magick Powers Potions in March 2019, and now, less than two months later, is enjoying his very first flowering kratom tree.
This is a testament to both the genetics of the plant and the skill of the grower.
Bradford's plants arrived on the auspicious date of spring equinox, March 21. In the split photo above, you see his smallest and youngest specimen on the left. The seed that created this Thai seedling was sown December 7, 2018, making this plant 3.5 months old on the date of arrival. One month later, you can see the specimen's progress in the right half of the split photo: the sex organ is forming, the leaves have grown and thickened, and the plant has doubled in size.
In spite these attributes, the flowering specimen remains small in comparison to the other two specimens, which are exhibiting the rapid growth we've come to associate with some of the very best kratom genetics. It could be that the genetics of the flowering plant have given it different instructions... instead of "grow big," the flowering plants genetics are telling it, "make more!"
Six weeks after arrival, all three plants can be seen in the photo above, with a close-up of the developing flower featured in the photo below. (Both photos were taken May 12.)
In American growing circles, it is virtually unheard of for such a young specimen to flower, leading aficionados of the plant to initially speculate whether changes in artificial light cycles or chemical intervention might be factors.
However Bradford maintains the same light cycle used for the plants in the Magick Powers Potions greenhouses and only uses food processed from all natural ingredients.
In the face of the widespread belief that kratom trees take years, if not decades, to reach maturity, situations like this encourage us to rethink what we've been told.
"As scientists and as every day people, it's so important to keep an open mind," says Cornelia Llama, resident hedgewitch for Magick Powers Potions. "There is so much we don't know about this plant, but we're learning more and more every day. It's constantly surprising us."
What is plant maturity anyway?
Plant maturity is meant to indicate when the plant is ready to set fruit or flower. In the case of kratom, we can further differentiate between sexual maturity and harvest maturity. Sexual maturity would indicate when the plant is capable of reproducing itself through the development of sex organs. Harvest maturity would indicate when the plant is ready to be harvested from. In both cases, this seems to be sooner than prevailing rumor would suggest.
Flowering timeline for Glenn Bradford's specimen:
Top left: the seedling arrives in Arizona March 21, 3.5 months post date of sowing
Top right: by April 20 the developing sex organ is apparent, 4.5 months post date of sowing
Bottom left: by May 12 the flower is beginning to bloom, 5 months post date of sowing
Bottom right and below: by May 18, the fully developed flower now consists of many florets, each exhibiting male and female parts.
They grow up so fast
"I expected the seed pod to open or change a bit," says Bradford, "but the odd, almost other-worldly appearance was surprising. It changed almost over night. My daughter came over for a visit, and there it was fully in bloom and just gorgeous."
Another specimen echoes the phenomenon
Just in time for publication we discovered another specimen from this same batch of seeds developing a flower here in the Magick Powers Potions greenhouses. This confirms that the two days of light deprivation experienced by Bradford's specimen during the shipping journey is not, in fact, responsible for the plant's early flowering, and leads us to suspect these particular genetics feature the expression of more rapid sexual development.
We have more plants from this batch and look forward to observing them for further sex organ development. A very limited number will be available for purchase as well.
How flowers become seed pods:
In mitragyna speciosa, flowers and seed pods are the same thing ---- one is unfertilized (flower) and one is fertilized (seed pod). The globular plant organ is composed of many kernels or fruits, each of which is a capsule that, if fertilized, will come to contain numerous small flat seeds. If this specimen can succeed in fertilizing itself (through the help of a pollinator, such a honey bee, the wind, or a meddling human), this plant would reproduce itself (but with zero evolution or adaptation), and each fruit capsule in the flower would harden and develop within it countless tiny seeds the size and shape of eyelashes. These seeds would contain identical DNA to the mother plant. In nature this is not ideal, but the fact that such a young specimen has produced a flower is nonetheless interesting and worth observing and considering potentialities. The mature fertilized pod would be a darkened round ball (see photo above) with many individual seed-containing packets.
Kratom's sexy seed fireworks
When kratom seed pods ripen to maturity, they explode, sending millions of tiny seeds flying through the air ---- quite an effective way to spread seed far and wide. It's like a real life homage to "This Side of Paradise," a classically excellent episode of Star Trek the original series when alien flowers on Omicron Seti V spew out eroticizing and mind-controlling spores that work instantaneously to make Spock, among others, fall in love.
Who doesn't appreciate a good Star Trek reference?
Getting the most for your money matters. That's why it's important to make the right choice when you're ready to grow your own kratom. The best plants are not always the cheapest, and that's why it's important to consider quality of genetics when you purchase a live mitragyna speciosa specimen. Genetics affect appearance, growth rate, quality, size and overall health.
At Magick Powers Potions, we stand behind our genetics unconditionally. With the proper environment and care, you can have a great growing experience like our customer Glenn Bradford when you purchase our kratom plants. Although we certainly cannot guarantee your plant will develop a seed pod, we can promise you we have worked faithfully and diligently to bring you the best possible genetics in our tireless quest to develop a bastion of kratom diversity here in the new American frontier.