Arisarum vulgare

Arisarum vulgare subspecies unknown

This is an unusual small perennial from the Mediterranean that flowers in autumn with weird blackish-purple striped hooded spathes on a plant just 15 cm tall. It is possibly a subspecies of Arisarum vulgare. The inflorescences are compelling: reminding me of either large leeches or tiny cobras lurking amidst the silver-spotted, heart-shaped leaves. Arisarum belong to the Araceae (or aroid) family of plants, which have characteristically unusual spathe flowers. They are not beautiful in the conventional sense of a rose or a lily, but they offer unusual shapes and an element of surreal intrigue to the garden when they flower - as well as being conversation pieces when showing people round!

Foliage of Arisarum vulgare, subspecies unknown, in the garden of June Probert in Sydney

Arisarum vulgare grows from a tuber and is said to grow best in an open site in full sun, with well-drained soil that is dry in summer (when it is dormant), although I have also seen it growing in shaded spots. I have seen it doing very well in a container, and this may be the best option for it, as it can possibly spread overenthusiastically if it finds your garden to its liking and may be impossible to get rid of. The foliage is attractive as a groundcover in an area that you don't mind it invading, as seen in the photo above.

Postscript: I eventually got rid of this plant from my garden because it did prove too invasive. I recommend that it only be grown in a pot.

Flowers in April, May, June, July.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.