Arum pictum is a low-growing, autumn-flowering arum with beautiful, shiny leaves and a purple spathe.
About this species
Arum pictum is unique in the genus Arum in its autumn-flowering, and in this respect, as well as in its horse dung-like scent, resembles members of the related genus Biarum. The shiny, purplish and silver leaves are very beautiful, and persist through the winter.
Geography & Distribution
Native to Majorca (Mallorca), Minorca, Corsica, Sardinia and the west coast of central Italy.
A winter-growing herb with a whitish tuber 5–7 cm across. The arrow-head-shaped leaves are about 30 cm long and 15 cm wide. At first they are shiny and purplish, later becoming silvery or whitish. The flowering stem (spadix) appears with or before the leaves, and smells strongly of horse dung. The spadix is 8–13 cm long, the appendage stout, cylindrical and purplish-black. The sheathing bract (spathe) is 9–19 cm long, 4–6.5 cm wide, greenish on the outside, deep, velvety purple-brown on the inside, with a mottled, greenish tip, and is slightly hooded. Three whorls of organs are found at the base of the spadix and enclosed in the folded spathe: the uppermost is a whorl of bristly staminodes (sterile stamens); in the middle there is a large cluster of small, male flowers; beneath there is a cluster of larger, female flowers. The fruits, which are red when ripe, are berries 5–11 mm long.
Threats & Conservation
The habitat of Arum pictum, like that of all Mediterranean coastal plants, is under pressure as a result of spreading urban development, particularly building for tourism.
Arum pictum is cultivated as an ornamental.
Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
The Millennium Seed Bank partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in Kew's seed bank vault at Wakehurst.
Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: Three.
Arum pictum is easily grown in a large pot. It should be kept dry in the summer, and watered in the winter (until May).
This species at Kew
Pressed and dried specimens of Arum pictum are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these can be seen on-line in the Herbarium Catalogue.
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Published for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew by Blackwell Publishing.
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