Arisaema speciosum

Arisaema speciosum

The name Arisaema was established in 1831 by German botanist and explorer Von Matius (1794-1868) and was based on three Himalayan species A. costatum, nepenthoides and speciosum which had previously been described and illustrated in 1828 by dutch born surgeon and botanist Nathaniel Wallich who placed them under the genus Arum.

Of course Arisaemas can be found in other regions of the northern hemisphere including the mountain areas of Asia as the Himalaya region, India, China and Japan, and there are two species originated from N. America.

Most arisaemas grow in humus rich soil in filtered light positions. Hardiness varies considerably among the species. Some can be grown in regions where winter temperatures drop to around below -10 Deg C. provided the soil is not water-logged. Tropical species need to be grown in frost free regions. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, particularly during the hotter times of the day.

We have a small collection of 9 of these very beautiful plants. Most have been grown from seed purchased from various sources. Of these 9 we can only really confirm the identity of 3; flavum, sikokianum and ringens. The others will need careful examination to confirm, or otherwise their identity. We make this point because references in relation to Arisaema are uniform. For example many texts still record that A. amurense can be found in Japan. However, in 1986 japanese botanist Murata revised the group of A. amurense and stated that this species is restricted to continental Asia including Korea, Russia and China and not found in Japan. The similar Japanese species is A. ovale.

We will continue to review our collection.

Distribution:
Native to the greater Himalayan region from Nepal, through Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and the northern part of West Bengal in India, to Bhutan, Southern Tibet, Northern Myanmar and  Yunnan, China.

Description:
It was first described by Nathaniel Wallich as Arum speciosum in 1824 and was then placed in the new genus Arisaema in 1832 von Martius. This species has medium-sized chocolate-maroon coloured spathes with white stripes arranged in a vertical fan-shape. The tip of the spathe hood is elongated and often droops down and together with the long attenuated spadix appendage gives this Arisaema one of its common names, the Double Whip Cobra Lily. Before the spathe fully opens it often resembles the beaked silhouette of a long-beaked bird.

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