Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Identifying The Cobra

One of the little enduring garden mysteries here has been the identity of this cobra lily (Asian jack in the pulpit), and it finally "might" be solved; I think it is Arisaema ciliata. Admittedly, I will have to wait until next spring to be sure, when I can see if it has the little namesake cilia at the edges of the spathe (jack). This Asian jack is one of the best in the garden, with large, tropical leaves (which are very waxy), and it stays in bloom, I believe, the longest of any of our jacks.
One of the unusual characteristics of A. ciliata is its habit of being stoloniferous, and in fact this spring I noticed two new little plants growing next to this one; I thought these were probably seedlings, and just dug them up and moved them, not suspecting they might have been stolons and that I could have just chopped up a bunch of roots in moving them. Fortunately, as they say, angels protect the innocent and fools, and I come in there somewhere under that blanket of protection, so the mother plant and both the babes did fine, and I will hopefully have three of these plants this next spring. Also, the original plant produced a huge seedhead, which I broke up and planted in my seedling bed, so we'll see what happens there next spring also.

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However you ID it, it certainly is a healthy and beautiful looking plant.
I too grow A. ciliatum, and this definitely has the correct leaf pattern.... has the spathe always been light green or was it closer to a raspberry burgundy last year.... the mottled stem is also reminiscent of A. tortuosum.... either way they are beguiling wonders in the garden
Nancy... I love the waxy leaves on this baby!

Teza... that's the one thing that bothers me; it's got just a little burgundy around the edge of the spathe, but otherwise it's green/white striped. The prominent stolons still make me think this is a variation on ciliata, but I need to look for those cilia next spring.
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