Tacca integrifolia is better known as Purple Batflower. The genus Tacca consists of long-lived, short stemmed, rhizomatous or tuberous herbaceous plants. In the wild, it occurs in the understory of rain forests in deep shade. This Batflower is native to Asia. This plant is a fast grower. It can reach up to 4ft in height.
The rhizome of this species grows vertically and the crown of large, attractive evergreen leaves emerge from the top of the rhizome. Cloaking the flowers from above are several broad and showy bracts, expanding like bat wings. The strange whisker-like (filiform) bracts are beautifully veined with purple, which can hang down for as much as 1 foot in length. It is these structures and their accompanying cluster of luridly colored flowers that has given rise to the sobriquet "batflower" for these marvelous tropical plants. Tacca integrifolia bracts emerge white, but fade out to dirty brown or muddy purple. Each plant produces at least 6 and up to 12 flower stems during the warm months of the year. Bat flowers are presumed to be pollinated by flies. In cultivation, apparent self-pollination takes place in a certain percentage of plants.
Flowering seems to begin when the plants have produced 2-3 full-size leaves. The leathery capsules (about 1.5" long) require up to a year to ripen. When they split along their sides, numerous 1/4" seeds are revealed embedded in a sticky pulp. Regarding the difference between Tacca integrifolia and Tacca nivea: Nivea emerges with snow white bracts, which slowly age to have green veins. The foliage is a little lighter than integrifolia, and the leaf stems stay light green, even in high light.
Hardiness zones: 10-11 (1°C/35°F, 4°C/40°F) in winter. During the growing season (late spring to late summer) the plants will need to be watered very regularly and the compost must be well drained. Give very little water through the winter and provide a temperature of 15-18°C (60-65°F) through the winter and 25-29°C (75-85°F) through the summer. The plants thrive in 70-80% shade, high temperatures, and even moisture. A container medium of 50% pine bark, 40% peat and 10% sand (or similar) supports rapid growth. The plants can be placed under irrigation or else supplied with highest rates of any resin-coated slow release fertilizer. The plants prefer a strongly acidic soil (5.1 to 5.5). Purple batflower is remarkably free of pest and disease problems.