16 May 2017

Fascination of Plants Day 6: Arisaema

Bruce Langridge

This fascinating family of plants is one of the Garden’s secret treasures

Their flowers are arranged on a long spike known as a ‘spadix’ that emerges from a ‘spathe’, a leaf-like sheath. These features give rise to its common name jack-in-the-pulpit, a double-entendre that co-incidentally reflects arisaemas’ unique ability to change sex.

Most arisaemas originate in China and Japan but our collection originates from the loving hands of horticultural stalwart Martin Knowles. For years he has been growing hard to grow varieties under the magnolia trees near the centre of the Double Walled Garden.

Here they can occasionally draw attention with foul or sweet smells to attract pollinating flies. But look closely and you’ll see wonderfully sculpted plants which are related to some of the first flowering plants on Earth.

This is one of 7 fascinating plants that will be featured on the Fascination of Plants Day guided walk on 18th May. Led by Bruce Langridge and the Garden’s curator Will Ritchie, the walk will begin at the Western entrance to the Great Glasshouse at 2pm.