Anthurium andraeanum (Hort.) (Kamemoto and Kuehnle, 1996) is an important tropical ornamental crop, second only to orchids, based on global trade volume. It is grown for its showy cut flower, which comprises a spadix with over 300 spirally arranged minute flowers subtended by a brightly colored modified leaf, the spathe (Croat, 1988). The size, shape, texture, color, and patterns on the spathe determine the commercial value of the cut flower; whereas its vase life determines its marketability (Paull et al., 1985).
Halevy and Mayak (1979) defined vase life as the useful longevity of the floral product at the final consumer's home. Commercially, a vase life of at least 3 weeks (Kamemoto and Kuehnle, 1996) is required to market anthurium cut flowers. Anthurium cut flowers are known for their relatively long vase life that ranges from 1 week to several months. An understanding of the morphophysiological characteristics associated with such a wide variation in vase life will allow breeders to develop varieties with long vase lives. There are no such studies in the literature.
Paull and Goo (1985) ascribed the symptoms of cut flower senescence in anthurium, that is, loss of spathe glossiness, spathe and spadix browning, and spathe wilting, to water stress. Another symptom, spathe blueing, is attributed to an increase in pH from 5.2 to 5.6 caused by an increase in ammonium ions resulting from the breakdown of proteins (Paull et al., 1985).
There is no agreed set of criteria for determining vase life in anthurium, because what is deemed unsalable by a wholesaler or retailer is different from what a consumer is prepared to discard (Paull, 1982). Shirakawa et al. (1964) used spathe wilting or spathe or spadix darkening as indications of vase life termination. Paull (1982), in addition, used loss of spathe glossiness and spathe blueing. Vase life is therefore determined by a complex criterion based on whichever of these symptoms appears first.
The objective of this study was to determine the morphophysiological basis for cultivar differences in vase life toward developing a prediction equation for vase life and to ascertain the validity of the prediction equation over seasons and a different set of cultivars. We also propose a simplified criterion for assessing vase life in anthurium.
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