Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lords-and-Ladies



Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)

Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)
August 8

I've been wanting to write about Lords-and-Ladies for some time now. It was one of the two unusual plants that I first noticed (and loved) last year when we first moved to the UK. The other was foxglove.

I noticed it because it's so colorful, growing low under the hedgerows. I had no idea for some time what it was - the orange berries not the flower and the leaves absent made it impossible for me to identify.

Earlier this year, I found another striking plant ... it looked very similar to what I knew as a Jack-in-the-pulpit back in New England. I identified it as Lords-and-Ladies (or "cuckoo pint") and posted a photo of it on my aunt's Facebook wall for her birthday. (I always like to give to other people things that I'd like to get. Wouldn't it be awesome to wake up on your birthday, log into your email, and see a photo of a beautiful flower like this?)



Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)

Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)
Photo taken May 4
The flower head spike is called a "spadix" and is a chocolate dark purple color. It's enclosed in a leaf-like "spathe" and is pretty distinctive.

I was really excited about this one and noted the location (just down the hill from Gamswell Farm - opposite the driveway to the next farmhouse). Soon after, I saw one more flower like this (same stretch of road) but no others.

In June, I started seeing single stems with a single small clusters of green berries - this time I knew what it was. What delighted me was the fact that these were everywhere! Not in great numbers, maybe one or two here and there, but certainly many more than I had ever dreamed, given that I only saw two in flower.

Now, in August, the berries (said to be extremely poisonous) are just past their peak. The stems don't hold up well - except for this monster on the right that seems to defy the laws of gravity. It continues to stand straight and bold, when all other have toppled over. I'll definitely be looking for the regeneration of this one next spring.

Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)
June 8
Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)
July 30

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