So yesterday I went to an indoor botanical garden that was all rain forestesque zoning. I saw a plant I forget the name of (Cyad?) but a sign said it generated heat.
A little googling has shown me that there are a whole host of plants that are thermogenic. In my brain I just thought "Whoa! Put a bunch of these in a greenhouse, maybe make some artificial ponds with rocks. Maybe I could make a passive heating system for plants that I could never grow in my zone (or just winter greens/tomatoes). The garden made me curious about a small cacao tree or cinnamon tree...oh my!
I searched permies for thermogenic and pulled up nothing. I'm still googling the idea, but the only problem would be that pretty much all of these plants' odor is awful at times. Their names or nick-names are usually something like "skunk cabbage" "carrion flower" "dead horse arum" and for a di-stink-t reason. They literally smell like death. Apparently it's for pollination reasons to attract morbid bugs.
I've heard of the plants you are talking about, just never the term thermogenic. However, you think about it just a bit, it makes sense. The plants are trying to attract insects and pollinators that appear around decaying/decomposing organisms. So, to best mimic a decomposing organism, they will have to produce heat to finalize that illusion. Smell alone would probably be insufficient because the triggers within the pollinators may require heat to be present; that way they don't waste their energy visiting a stinky organism that isn't dead.
Numerous aroids are thermogenic. Years ago I had a Sauromatum and the central spadix was warm to the touch on it's first blooming day. But that's the most I've ever felt from them. Usually each bloom only lasts a few days, so it would be limited in time as well as space. And except for the skunk cabbages and a few others, they are mostly tropical anyway, so you would need to provide them with heat in order for them to produce any.
But just about any plant is highly thermogenic, if you dry it out and set it on fire!
Many barasicas also generate heat when cut. Cabbage is a good example of this. Even though it looks hearty its always one of the ones we try to get dunked and in the walk in first because of this. I imagine that if you set a greenhouse up over a just harvested winter cabbage plot one could capture some of this heat.
Freakin' hippies and Squares, since 1986
Blueberry pie is best when it is firm and you can hold in your hand. Smell it. And smell this tiny ad: