G loves unusual plants. Can you tell from our travels? We have orchids and loads of salvias. Arums and the related genus like Arisaema is another plant family he loves. He worked many years at Seattle Garden Center in the Pike Place Market. The store always had a wonderful selection of bulbs and tubers. One unusual bulb that they sold was Voodoo Lily - Sauromatum guttatum. Of course, with a name like Voodoo Lily - he couldn't resist it. Not only did it have an unusual name but it also had a unusual smell. Like so many other plants that are maroon to dark brown, it is pollinated by flies and has the smell of rotting meat. He knew about the smell because sometimes they would bloom in the boxes without being planted in soil and stink up the store. He became curious and it led to him investigating the arum family.
Arums are a Mediterranean plant native of Greece, Cyprus, the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East. They are tubers. The flower is a hood like spathe which wraps around an erect spadix. A cob of seeds are produced after pollination which turn red in the fall. The leaves can also be very attractive. They are dark green triangular heart shaped leaves. Some have white marbling which gives an exotic accent to the garden.
He has collected several different species over the years. One which has a large maroon spathe is
Dragon Lily - Dracunculus Vulgaris (aka Arum dracunculus). We lost it a couple of years ago but it does do well in Seattle. It has become wild in parts of Ballard.
One Arum that has come back reliably is Arum Dioscoridis. It has a beautiful mottled hood but a disgusting odor. G and I were working in the yard today. The weather has been dry and warm for the past couple of weeks. Today was no different. I was weeding and I kept smelling this odor like steer manure. Our mulch has some in it but it doesn't smell. We finally realized it was the Arum. Man, did it stink! Peter Boyce who wrote the monograph on the genus described the fragrance as "a mixture of dung and rotting flesh". Exactly!
Here are a few more pictures: