Arisaema TOW

Ernie O'Byrne
Tue, 19 Aug 2003 17:17:48 PDT
I am embarrassed to realize that I have dropped the ball a bit here. I was
supposed to do the intro for Arisaema this week, but now there have been a
couple of messages jumping (quite rightly) the gun, so I'd best get

First, the disclaimers: I am certainly no expert on the genus, not having
grown them for very long (our first A. sikokianum and ringens were purchased
about 10 years ago), but we do fairly well with them because we live in a
suitable climate zone for many and have a sandy loam soil, which they seem
to appreciate. Also, we grow quite a number for the nursery. The best way to
tackle this is probably to talk a bit about the ones that we, ourselves,
grow in the garden and nursery, remembering that we have not had a very
severe winter in about 10 years. I will let others talk about the ones that
I have missed that they grow.

The genus, according to the treatment in Gusman's recent book, _The Genus
Arisaema_, is made up of 14 sections, but the classification is rather
complex and, although I highly recommend the book for anyone interested even
remotely in the genus, I am not going to belabor the botanical details here.

A. speciosum--a spectacular species with a trifoliolate leaf with red on the
lower surface and an attractive flower with a long-threaded spadix appendage
and purple and white stripes on the spath. It has done very well for us in
both pots and in the ground, although we have not had very cold winters
recently. One mystery is that the upper parts look exactly like speciosum,
but the tuber is flattened and round, not elongated as shown in the book.

A. griffithii--One of our favorites because of its somewhat sinister
appearance. It is about the same size as speciosum for us, somewhat over two
feet, and is finally starting to offset well. For quite a few years, we got
only one leaf and one flower. After probably 5 years, last year, for the
first time, we got two flowers and three leaves and this year there were 5
flowers and many leaves! What we grow is probably what is often called var.
pradhanii, with a very wide-spreading "reptilian hood-like spathe-limb". It
does indeed look like a cobra. The color is a deep chocolate-purple. So far
this has never set seed for us, even with attempts at hand-pollination.
Highly variable, so search out a good clone.

A. utile--Somewhat similar to griffithii (and often sold under the name A.
verrucosum a syn. for griffithii), but with a whitish receptacle to the
inflorescense, rather than the purple of griffithii. That seems a rather
minor difference, but they are distinct in appearance, although hard to
describe the difference succinctly. This has not offset for us in the garden
and does not set seed for us, sadly.

A. wilsonii--A relatively new plant for us from Dan Hinkley at Heronswood.
His form is fully 4 feet tall and gorgeous in fruit. There is a very large
patch at the N. end of the display gardens at Heronswood. This is also
trifoliolate and the fruiting spike is 10-20 cm. long! The inflorescense is
an attractive striped white/purple and the peduncle ("flower" stem) is held
separately (dividing at ground level) from the petiole (leaf stem), so the
fruits are very easy to see as they are held very high.

A. flavum--Comes in many different clones varying in size of plant and
flower and intensity of color of the flower. It is the commonest species in
cultivation, probably owing to its setting seed freely by self-pollination.
It has cute, tubby little yellow flowers and pedatisect leaves, radiating in
a fan from the petiole. Size varies from about a foot at first flowering to
3' in the "giant form". It has been very easy and increases freely by seed.

A. thunbergii ssp. urashima--From Japan, as is the following species,
growing to about 2 feet and having pedatisect leaves and a purplish
inflorescense with a very long thread-like spadix-appendix. Hasn't set seed
or obviously offset for us yet in about 8 years, although I haven't dug it
up to see whether they just haven't sent up independent leaves yet.

A. kiushianum--Perhaps the 'cutest' of the arisaemas, growing to only about
a foot for us, with owlish little striped "flowers" (I'm going to use this
term from now on for the inflorescense, even though inaccurate), held very
close to the ground with a multicolored spath, slightly hooded and with a
spadix appendage that sticks upward out of the spath. Hasn't increased for
us in about 4 years by either offsets or seed.

A. candidissimum--A wonderful species that offsets freely, sets seed and is
beautiful besides! They flowers can vary from white to pink forms, are
striped with greenish and are open facing the viewer. They can be a bit
hidden by the tripartate foliage, but a large patch does look glorious. It
is VERY late to emerge and always gives one a bit of concern, when it
doesn't, and then, surprise when it does finally emerge. Vies in my mind
with A. sikokianum as the most elegant of the arisaemas. Said to be faintly
fragrant after opening, but I haven't ever noticed that.

A. fargesii--Also offsets freely, but has an attractive purple/white striped
spath. The tuber is reddish and somewhat glossy. Trifoliolate leaves with a
large apical leaflet, turn a pleasant golden in the fall. Very similar to
franchetianum, which we recently obtained, but differs in having strongly
recurved mouth-margins, whereas, franchetianum does not.

A. nepenthoides--A tall plant with radiatisect (palmate) leaves and tannish
colored, eared flowers (having auricles) in the form we have. It also has
attractive, darkly spotted 'stems'. It grows to about a meter tall. Flowers
are variable among the various forms.

Arisaemas from the Section Pedatisecta are going to be grouped for the
purposes of this discussion. We grow and do well with, AA. ringens, ovale
var. sadoense, amurense, sazensoo, sikokianum, kishidae, iyoanum,
maximowiczii, tashiroi, yamatense and serratum. Most are perfectly hardy and
easy, so far, in the garden and a few set seed. A. sikokianum is our
favorite arisaema, especially in its silver-leaved forms, with its dark
spathe and pure white, bulbous spadix. It sets seed for us lightly. Spathe
limbs on most in the section are plain or longitudinally striped and the
leaves are trifoliolate (technically they are spirodistichous, but think
three leaflets). AA. sazensoo and iyoanum, in the forms that we have from
Barry Yinger at Asiatica, are very beautiful, very dark, forms, among our
'must haves'. A. ringens has very imposing, glossy leaves, although the
interesting helmet-like flowers are hidden beneath the three-part foliage.
Others in the section are interesting to collectors, but not sensational (in
my humble opinion), at least in the forms that we have.

A. consanguineum--One of the 'workhorses' of the genus, lovely with its
radiatisect leaf (think umbrella-like). It sets seed for us readily and also
offsets. It is somewhat variable with emergence time, strength of stem and
color of the inflorescense (greenish to purplish), but they are almost all
nice, especially when planted in a group.

A. taiwanense--A gorgeous, heavy, mottled 'stem' makes this species a
standout in the garden. It has great presence in the garden and also has the
drip tips that consanguineum does, but is heavier in over-all
appearance--sturdy would be apt--and the flower color is darker. It also
sets lots of seed for us.

And last, but not least by any means, Section Tortuosa

A. tortuosum--one of the best in the genus, being also the largest (up to 7
feet!--over 2 m.) and having a 'comical' dark spadix-appendix that first
heads horizontal and then turns abruptly skyward!. Seems easy to grow,
setting seed and offsetting well. We also grow dracontium, negishii, and
heterophyllum, but we have not had them long enough to offer insights,
except to say that I am wondering whether heterophyllum will be reliably
hardy for us here is Z. 7

Sorry if this is overly long and I apologize for the delay in posting.

One thing that we could talk about in the discussion is the well-known
tendency of arisaemas to skip a year, or two, or even three! if conditions
are not to their liking. We have pulled tags when we first were getting into
them, thinking they had died and a couple of years later, there they were!

Ernie O'Byrne
Northwest Garden Nursery
86813 Central Road
Eugene OR 97402-9284
Phone: 541 935-3915
FAX: 541 935-0863
Eugene, Oregon is USDA Zone 8a on the map, but we can only grow Zone 7
plants reliably. Member of NARGS, SRGC, RHS, American Primula Society,
Meconopsis Group, Alpine-L, Arisaema-L, Hellebore Group

"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we
arrive at that goal."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Jane McGary
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2003 3:31 PM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: Re: [pbs] Arisaema TOW

I don't grow many arisaemas, thanks to the slugs and a soil that is not
retentive enough for most of them, but just yesterday I was wondering about
one that I have in a pot. I got the seed as Arisaema anatolicum. It is only
about 8 inches/20 cm tall and this spring bore a flower on a stem below the
level of the two divided leaves. The flower was small and green, shaped
something like that of A. flavum. To my surprise (since I thought arisaemas
were not self-fertile), it has formed a cluster of fruits which are just
starting to turn red.

I don't find this species in the books I have here (I don't have the new
Gusman book). Can someone inform me about it? I assume from the name that
it grows in Turkey.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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