Friday, 24 April 2009

Lords and Ladies

Some strange-looking flowers this morning. I have been waiting for a couple of weeks for the Lords-and-Ladies to start flowering and this morning the first of them were showing their faces.

This exotic-looking plant (scientific name Arum maculatum), is in fact a very common one, but often overlooked due to it's pale, greenish-white flowers which blend in with the other foliage amongst which it grows. It is known by a number of names the most common being Lords-and-Ladies or Cuckoo-pint but less often as Jack in the Pulpit, Devils and Angels, Cows and Bulls, Adam and Eve, Bobbins, Naked Boys, Starch-Root and Wake Robin. The large, pale 'hood' is called a spathe and it covers the purplish flower spike, known as a spadix. The spadix produces heat and a slight perfume which makes it attractive to small rodents, who eat it. The flowers are actually to be found at the base of the spadix and consist of a ring of female flowers below a ring of male ones. Insects are trapped by a ring of hairs above the male flowers and while struggling to escape, are dusted with pollen. This pollen is then carried to other plants when the flys are allowed to leave. In Autumn, the plant produces a head of very poisonous red berries.
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