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What is Arisarum?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
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  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2016
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Some plants have an out-of-this-world appearance. This is true of many members of the plant kingdom, but applies especially to the three plants of the Arisarum genus. These cold-weather flowering plants are endemic to the Mediterranean region, but are cultivated worldwide for their interesting foliage and flowers. They all have a brightly colored leaf hood over their flowers.

Arisarum plants are members of the araceae family. They are closely related to calla lilies, elephant ear plants and skunk cabbage. All of these plants share broad characteristics, such as elliptical or ovate leaves and showy inflorescences. Plants in this family prefer damp soils and moderate sunlight.

Arisarum simorrhinum, or friar's cowl, is one of the plants in this genus. This plant has a purple and brown spathe — a specialized leaf that covers the flower to protect it from the elements as it grows. The plant produces a spadix — a flower on the end of a shoot or a spike with a fleshy protuberance in the center. The spadix of this plant is typically white or off-white. This species is native to Spain, Morocco and Portugal and prefers moderately dry to dry climates, unlike other members of the genus.

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Arisarum proboscideum, the mouse tail plant, is endemic to Italy and Spain. The plant thrives best in consistently moist but well-drained soils. This plant has a dark purple to brown spathe covering a white spadix. The appearance of the spathe and spadix lends the plant its common name. The inflorescence is said to resemble a mouse because of the long tail that is attached to the spathe. This species thrives in shade.

The third member of this plant genus, Arisarum vulgare, is known commonly as arison or, as is the case with Arisarum simorrhinum, friar's cowl. The plant has a dark purple or almost black spathe covering a white or off-white spadix. The plant grows in both shade and sun but prefers consistently moist, well-drained soil. It is native throughout the Mediterranean.

Arisarum simorrhinum and Arisarum proboscideum bloom from late winter through early spring in temperate climates. Arisarum vulgare blooms throughout early spring, into summer and ceases to bloom in mid-autumn. All of the plants are considered perennials, though they may lie dormant during the hottest and driest months of the year, leading to the misconception that they are annuals.

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ShaneGang
Post 2

I grew a mouse plant without a problem in my living room. I kept it close to the air conditioner vent, and I made sure that I kept the soil really moist at all times. I also used a tip my grandmother taught me. I kept an air humidifier on low speed near the plant all the time. It really helped to keep the plant from drying out.

BouncingKiwi
Post 1

Does anyone know which one of these is easiest to grow as just an ordinary plant in the home? I have a "black" thumb when it comes to growing regular house plants, and was wondering if I might have better luck growing one of these.

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