Arisaema consanguineum is a striking plant with rather sinister-looking flowers and bold foliage.
About this species
Arisaema consanguineum is an exotic-looking tuberous perennial, with arum-like flowers, usually striped brown and cream. It is widely available in British nurseries and adds an exotic note to the garden. It is a variable species, which is perhaps unsurprising due to its wide distribution in Asia, and although plants originating from the Himalaya are hardy in southern England, those from Thailand, for example, need glasshouse protection. It is therefore of practical use to know the origin of a plant before purchasing a specimen.
This species was named by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott (1794-1865), Director of the Imperial Gardens at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. He was one of the great experts on the aroid family and produced numerous beautifully illustrated books on the subject.
Geography & Distribution
Arisaema consanguineum subsp. consanguineum is native to northern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, northern Thailand, Laos and China. Arisaema consanguineum subsp. kelung-insulare is restricted to Taiwan. It is found at elevations of 1000–3200 m.
Arisaema consanguineum is a tuberous perennial, up to 1 m tall. It has a single leaf (rarely two), with several narrow leaflets, tapering to a thread-like tail. The flowers appear May–July and have a green, or brown and cream striped spathe (about 5 cm long) with a long, narrow point and a whitish, club-shaped spadix. The flowers are followed by a cluster of red berries.
Threats & Conservation
Arisaema consanguineum is common in many parts of China.
Arisaema consanguineum is grown as an ornamental. In Nepal, the leaves are boiled and eaten as vegetables. The tubers of many species of Arisaema, including A. consanguineum, are used in the Himalaya and China for a variety of medicinal purposes. For example, A. consanguineum is traditionally used to treat coughs, epilepsy and rheumatism. However, all parts of the plant contain oxalic acid and calcium oxalate crystals (raphides) which are strongly irritating, and can produce severe poisoning if eaten without proper preparation. In India, for example, this species, the common name of which is snake cob, has been responsible for livestock poisoning.
This species at Kew
Pressed and dried and alcohol-preserved specimens of Arisaema consanguineum are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these specimens, including images, can be seen on-line in the Herbarium Catalogue.
JSTOR Plant Science (includes images of Arisaema consanguineum)
Curtis's Botanical Magazine
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (Editor: Martyn Rix) provides an international forum of particular interest to botanists and horticulturists, plant ecologists and those with a special interest in botanical illustration.
Now well over two hundred years old, the Magazine is the longest running botanical periodical featuring colour illustrations of plants. Each four-part volume contains 24 plant portraits reproduced from watercolour originals by leading international botanical artists. Detailed but accessible articles combine horticultural and botanical information, history, conservation and economic uses of the plants described.
Published for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew by Blackwell Publishing.
See the Wiley-Blackwell Subscription Information page for rates (for both print and online).
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
Epimedium flavum is a herbaceous perennial with upright stems and bright yellow flowers, produced mainly in spring.
- newly discovered
- around the world
- of use
- ground breaking
- garden plants
- english garden
Plants & Fungi blogs from Kew
25 Jan 2013
He may be a Seed Morphologist but Wolfgang Stuppy of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank discovers there is more to the snake gourd than just some strange fruit and eccentric seeds.