A group of plants which are just starting to come into flower and leaf create a lot of interest. They belong to the Taro/ Calla/ Philodendron family, the Araceae. My small collection is of the perennial tuber producing group, which have the most amazing flowers. As these plants die down at certain times of the year I am growing them in pots.
The first to flower is Pinella tripartita from Japan and China. The flower is a pretty green and shaped a little like a hood with a long slim “tail” from its top standing above the foliage. The flowers are a little lost in the foliage but are beautiful close-up.
Next is Arisaema ringens from China and Korea with a flower looking a little like our green trigger orchid but larger and more weird with whirls in it’s petals and wonderful dark parallel stripes in it’s hood. Soon after follows Arisaema sikokianum from Japan, a very handsome flower which stands above the foliage The flower has a pure white club-shaped spadix surrounded by a trumpet-shaped spathe, striped and purple coloured on the outside with a long greenish red extension on top.
The dark purple/black Dracunculus vulgaris from the Mediterranean is coming into flower. This is one of the fly pollinated ones, it smells of rotten meat for a day or two then collapses. A very wonderful coloured flower similar in shape to a Calla but with a longer spathe. Not one to have beside the front door!
Soon the Sauromatum guttatum from India will flower. Last year at 8am it was a tall pencil thin, dark purple spire then the spathe which was wrapped tightly around the spadix opened to reveal a beautiful purple on brownish-green mottled interior. The spathe quickly fell over and a strong rotten smell issued forth which attracted flies from everywhere. By the evening the whole inflorescence was starting to collapse.
The next to show its flower is Amorphophallus henryii, another of the strong smelling, fly-pollinated plants. The spadix appears first which is brownish-grey and upright then the spathe rapidly forms around the base of it. This is reddish-brown, fairly glossy and speckled with lighter markings. When the spathe is full size the pollination “pong” starts and this lasts for a couple of days after which the flower starts to collapse.
This is followed by Arisaema candidissimum. This plant comes from Western China. Growing to about 80cm high, the flowers quickly form and open as the trifoliate leaf continues to grow and unfurl. The flower is a hooded spathe in delicate pink with white length lines running over the hood. No rotten meat smell to this one. The flowers last over a week so it gives a good display.
Arisaema erubescens, (the name it was given to me as but it may be wrong) is next to flower. It is not spectacular or flamboyant but a yellowish-green and has a flower very similar to our native Hooded Orchid. It has two leaves composed of up to twenty three leaflets on each. Between these two leaves the flower appears about halfway up the leaf stalks. Again no strong smell but it does have a faint enjoyable scent.
Arisaema consanguineum will follow soon after. From temperate East Asia and Yunnan this ones flower is a long tube, green without, striped deep purple within, with white stripes along the veins. It is a fairly robust grower to about a metre high. I look forward to seeing it open.
All my plants at present are in pots growing in mostly full sun, probably not the best position for them as they like dappled sun to light shade best. I have seen some growing in this position lately and they look quite magnificent. One group was growing on the top of a ridge in Paihia in light shade and part of the day full sun and I had to look twice to identify it as it was growing so well. It is high time mine went into the garden to see what they will do here.