In the garden world the common ‘everyday’ can vanish somewhere between real and surreal; for sure Arisaemas are to blame for this. Mysterious and animistic creatures, they are permanently watching us, even from the underground. At Lost Horizons Nursery there are quite a few Arisaema species (Cobra lilies or Jack-in-the-pulpits) around; sometimes benevolent and sometimes mischievous you’ll find them everywhere: in small seedling trays to pots, stock beds or in the display gardens.
Arisaema ringens from the galeate section of cobra lilies is worth growing only for the huge, trifoliolate, glossy, and leathery leaves. The thick spathe with green and purple stripes resembles a cobra head rising up from the shade, ready to attack garden intruders. The spathe-limb is described botanically as galeate (galea – means helmet), and can be green or purple with white stripes and revolute green or purple margins. The spadix is either male or female. Origin: Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, and E China. The only regret that someone can have about A. ringens is that it rarely produces seeds. Maybe the right pollinators are not around, and we also need to have the two partners together in order to have babies, aka. seeds (at least in most cases).
Another species with galeate spathe-limb (helmet-like) is A. franchetianum. It has 1 or 2 trifoliolate leaves with bluish green, ovate leaflets and the inflorescence appears below the leaf, like in A. ringens. Arisaema franchetianum ‘Hugo’ has the spathe-limb deep purple with white stripes and its tip is ending in a 20 cm long tail-like apex. The spadix is either male or female, exceptionally bisexual – but let’s not get started on the Arisaemas gender variability now…
Arisaema franchetianum doesn’t require that much shade like other Arisaemas; in its original habitat is actually growing in “ open sunny sites among boulders and scrubs, along roadsides” (SW China, NE India, and N Myanmar). Here you have it, one Arisaema that doesn’t have to be in the woodland garden!
Do not be afraid of the Arisaemas, take my example – Good and not so good things happening around the garden?
Blame them all on the Arisaemas!