In a mood for Arisaema part II – Arisaema galeatum

Another great Arisaema that flowers in early spring is Arisaema galeatum. It is another story than A. sazensoo because it has a really big tuber. It is said that can grow to half a kilogram! Last year when I was checking the tuber in early March I caught it just starting to grow and it looked very appealing to me – with a dark-chocolate coating and raspberry syrup on top would be delicious! But I put myself together… This is an Arisaema from the Himalayan range (NE India to Bhutan), which grows during the mansoon months and then the leaves start withering in late summer and goes dormant early. Good to keep this in mind as it shows its requirements for a very good drainage from late summer to fall, and during winter of course.

The flower emerge on the same time with the leaves, on a short peduncle and it has a helmet-like (galeate) spathe, similar with A. ringens. It can be green or brown with whitish veins and has a white, translucent spadix that ends in a thread like whip.  I like to call it Dolphin cobra lily, because that’s what it suggested to me first time when it bloomed – a dolphin emerging for air from within the leaf! 

Just like its sister, A. ringens, the huge trifoliolate leaf is very ornamental. Actually, I consider it among the most beautiful from all Arisaema species I’ve seen. It unfolds slowly and the back pattern with accentuated purple ribs makes it mesmerizing to watch.

It did form two tuberlets two years ago (not a great rate of offsetting), from which one even produced a small flower in its first season! Unfortunately, the rainy weather we had late summer to fall it proved fatal for the smaller size tubers. If someone wants to give it a try I suggest container culture, so it can be moved to a dry place in late summer, or if in the garden a real well drained area, like close to a tree or shrub that would remove the excess water and also provide the part-shade required.