In the Shadows


I made it out into the world today, several times in fact, but this photo is one we’ve been stalking for several days. We do not have a well-heeled garden. Local plants, especially wild ones, predominate, and priority is given to those that have interesting stories or that entice visitors from the bird and insect worlds. Jeff, of course, knows his garden and tracks the life cycles of the various plants that live in it. He has been watching this little native all week, giving me daily updates on its progress. Meet Aram maculatum, also known as cuckoo pint or lords-and-ladies.

This rather curious plant takes its nicknames from its likeness to male and female genitalia. (The word pint is a shortening of the old English word pintle, or penis.) Tucked away in shady woodland spots, the cuckoo pint emits a rather foul, almost faecal, odor to attract insects which it then imprisons in its bulbous base. The trapped insect is dusted with pollen so that when it is later released it can pollinate other flowers nearby. Later in the year, red berries form, but these are not edible and will, apart from tasting quite nasty, also cause uncomfortable allergic reactions. This is clearly one of nature’s curiosities that is best appreciated from afar!

2 thoughts on “In the Shadows

  1. Thanks for the background Kimberly.. I met these in my woodland walk yesterday and romantically thought of them as woodland candles…

  2. Arum Maculatum – the besmirched lilly. “Macula” are sun spots. We know who the IMmaculate one is – the Virgin Mary. So who is the maculate/besmirched one? Mary Magdalene, depicted as a whore {and some say, Jesus’ wife}. To add to this connection, When Jack in the Pulpit (the American name for this plant) reaches its final stage, it makes bright red berries.

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