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Zombie Plants: The Walking Dead of the Plant Kingdom

Oh ye zombie fans, it’s not just those rotting-limbed creatures of movies and comics and voodoo lore that posses the ability to return from beyond the grave. There are coursing, pulsing, wild things at rest just beneath the soil, calling out not the mournful desire for “Brrrainnns!” but rather the haunting cry for “Raaainnns!!” The near-dead, seemingly-dead, not-really-dead zombie plants of rotany, longing for but a drop of moisture, or perhaps a good defrost, to come back to their former glory.

800px-GreenPolypods

Meet the Resurrection Fern, sometimes known as Miracle Fern. (I like to call it Zombie Fern)
Pleopeltis polypodioides also Polypodium incanum (Florida)

You may already be familiar with the Resurrection Fern for its place in the old-school houseplant’s hall of fame. Named for its uncanny ability to recover from a dried up, dead-husk type state, to a semi-lush version of its former green self, upon being soaked overnight in water. In my personal experience the brown still remains on the edges if it’s gone completely dry for too long, but no amount of neglect can actually kill this rotanical.

Before and After of Res Fern (245x192)

It’s a real fern, too, not just an imposter. A creeping little epiphyte of a fern, with varietals native to both the Americas—including areas of the southeastern United States—and Africa. Being an air plant means it takes its nutrients from the air, rather than through the soil, which contributes to its success in reviving after long periods of near-death-experiences. They are fairly small in size, many of those available in retail nurseries or places like Paxton Gate fit in the palm of your hand. You just take the dry, curled up little thing and place it in a dish of water and watch the magic. It takes about a day to see the full glory, but improvements occur within the hour.

There is evidence that the native Floridian variety, Polypodium incanum, was used in combination with Shoestring fern (Vittaria lineate) by the Seminole and Mikasuki tribes as a treatment for chronic health conditions including ill babies. Many of the ferns were traditionally used in a bath as a treatment for insanity.

Creek Indians called this plant Ihosi:Cokhissi—derived from Ehose, a mystical being that causes people to get lost, and kokhesse, meaning whiskers. (This last definition came from Daniel F. Austin’s insanely amazing book Florida Ethnobotany. Out of print, but you can read parts of it on googlebooks.)

Zombie Moss

Edmonton Journal Moss Photo

Very recently a type of ancient arctic moss was discovered by University of Alberta Professor Catherine La Farge. She discovered the plant material at the toe of the Teardrop glacier in Northern Canada. La Farge noticed that some of the moss at the edge of the ice seemed to have a tinge of green to it, so she harvested it and brought it back to her lab.

The moss is actually 400 years old—having been buried during what is known as the Little Ice Age (1550-1850). It went down, and it got up again. Big time.

La Farge took the moss, ground it up, and planted in petri dishes full of potting soil. Four weeks later, life emerged. She said, “Now we have to think there may be populations of land plants that survived that freezing. It makes you wonder what’s under the big ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic and alpine glaciers. And we have a 400-year-old lineage of genetic material.”

The implications are not just botanical either. There could be something life-saving, or life-preserving, in the cells of such resilient plants. Read the full article about La Farge’s groundbreaking discovery here:

Edmonton Journal Article on Zombie Moss

zombie

Photo one taken from Wikimedia commons

Photo two taken from Edmonton Journal’s article on the arctic moss, Shaughn Butts

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Botanical Alchemy: An Interview with Artist Benjamin A. Vierling

Benjamin Vierling is an artist of exemplary abilities whose art features many themes, from magical plants to alchemy to astrology to mythology. His layered, nearly lacquered look and exquisite attention to detail rivals that of the great Renaissance painters. I was lucky enough to catch up with Vierling recently and discuss his rotanical leanings. Here are the results.

Plants seem to play an important role in your paintings, including being the main subject of several. What is your earliest plant memory?
T
he first actual plant memory may be of hanging house ferns, and of the delicate light being filtered through their lace-like fronds. I spent the early years of my childhood in an elegant San Francisco flat, and I seem to recall the atmosphere being imbued with soft green shadows and coiling tendrils. I believe that my mother had a number of plants placed near the tall, paned windows. I presumably spent hours as an infant watching the interplay of light and shade on the ivory walls and ornate Victorian moulding. The strongly aromatic scent of eucalyptus likewise permeates these memories, as a grove of the trees stood very near to our residence.

The subject of your paintings Papaver Somniferum and Atropa Belladonna, are both rotanicals in their own right, considering their deadly attractive properties. Can you tell us more about how you came to choose these plants as subjects?
These images were originally commissioned for the musical-herbal, Infernal Proteus, which was released by Ajna Records in 2002. This eclectic compilation of music featured a score of different bands and musical projects, each of whom selected a plant to illustrate by way of image and sound. In part because of the musicians with whom I was collaborating, Papaver Somniferum and Atropa Belladonna were selected along with Ficus sycamores. All of these unique flora figure prominently in folklore and legend. I always endeavor to depict the soul of the plant in my paintings, and so it is important to weave in mythological references along with the botanical details.Vierling_Papaver_SomniferumHF_

Are plants more difficult to paint than people or objects?
This definitely depends on the individual identity of the subject! On the whole, plants require more meticulous rendering, with their widely diverse manifestations of leaf, stem, and flower, all of which may appear in an infinite variety of colors. Textures are always important to acknowledge when rendering any form with paint. Some surfaces, like planed wood, or naked bone, are somewhat formulaic to render, whilst others, such as the multileveled labyrinth of pine-bark, pose a more rigorous challenge. The human subject is furthermore unique. The patron of a portrait inevitably has expectations about how the sitter should be depicted and perceived, whereas a plant is less vocal with it’s standards. I have nevertheless had nightmares about plants whose unique personas I had failed to exalt with due grace at the easel.

What are the plants in Sacred Heart and what do they represent?
There are three distinct species blossoming from the Sacred Heart; Datura stramonium, Hyoscyamus niger, & Atropa Belladonna. These herbs from the Witch’s garden were selected in part because of their toxic yet visionary properties, and also because of their wonderfully alluring forms. The general idea was to create a microcosm of rich abundance, in which 13 different species of small fauna navigate and interact amidst the radiant flora. The stylistic inspiration comes from baroque-era dutch floral paintings. The theme of the Sacred Heart further elaborates on the idea that life stems from a radiant source, however dangerous or venomous certain facets of it may be. The complex balance of nature.Vierling-Sacred-Heart-Web-HF

Your painting Pomegranates has a luscious but somehow sinister quality. What drove you to paint this fruit?
I have long been bewitched by the tantalizing color and form of the legendary pomegranate. This particulate fruit has a strong presence in art history, is featured often in still-lives and in cornucopia motifs, and is sometimes used as inspiration for the fruit of original sin within depictions of the garden of Eden. All of these nuances were implied in the creation of this work.

The story I am specifically insinuating with the composition is the Persephone myth from classical Greece. In the legend, Hades, Lord of the Underworld, abducts the goddess of Spring and brings her down below to his subterranean kingdom. Whilst captive, the Goddess partakes of the pomegranate offered to her by Hades. The Fates had ordained that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld would be doomed to stay for all eternity, but Hades capitulates to the will of the protesting Gods, and releases the goddess for all but the winter months of each year. She remains annually captive in the Underworld one month for each seed eaten.

10-Vierling_PomegranatesThe painting is an allegory for this dramatic tale, the watchful preying mantis standing in for Hades, while Persephone is represented by the small, luminous butterfly that has alighted upon the jeweled seeds of the ripe pomegranate below. The lifeless fly on the tabletop indicates the realm of the dead that Hades rules, as well as denoting the willful smiting of adversity, for which Cronus’s eldest son was renown.
The composition contains layers of meaning, but the viewer need know nothing of mythology to appreciate the image. If one enjoys the rich, succulent vitality of a ripe pomegranate, then hopefully this painting will provide some food for thought.

Benjamin Vierling is available for commissioned work and many of his botanicals and other amazing works are for sale at: bvierling.com

If you are anywhere within driving distance of Seattle, you can check out Benjamin’s work will be at the following gallery:

Coming Soon to the Steele Gallery:
Benjamin Vierling: A Decennary Retrospective
January 17 — February 14 (2014)Concurrent Artist Lecture: Friday, January 17
7:00pm/Geo Studio (3rd floor)Showcasing select drawings and paintings from 10 years of work, 2004-2014, A Decennary Retrospective is California artist Benjamin Vierling’s first solo exhibition in Seattle. Employing primarily a 15th century mixed media technique of egg tempera and oil paints on panel, he integrates mythical references with contemporary subjects to bridge the timeless with the ephemeral. The iconic compositions of these panels indicate a rich historical precedent, distilling influences from the classical era, through the renaissance, the romantic period and into the present.

Artists’ Reception: January 17, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Sacred Heart appears on the cover of Three Hand’s Press  Veneficium: Magic, Witchcraft, and the Poison Path by Daniel A. Schulke. His painting Mandragora officianarum appeared on the cover of Raven Grimassi’s book, Old World Witchcraft. All images courtesy of the artist, Benjamin A. Vierling, and all rights are reserved.

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Mycelium Running or Underground Messengers of Distress

HyphaeIf you are a plant-brained type, or more accurately a fungaholic, you’ve no doubt heard of Paul Stamets’ book, Mycelium Running.  It’s about the amazing and awe-inspiring powers of the little ol’ mycelium, those underground thread like ‘shrooms. As his subtitle suggests, How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World mushrooms can be used for everything from building houses to fuel to cleaning toxic waste up from the soil, not to mention our bodies. 

Once thought to have a sycophantic relationship with other plants, fungi got a bad rap. But numerous studies have shown that they have a symbiotic (mutually beneficial, can’t we all just get along?) relationship that those fungi seek out. The fungus gets carbon from the plant, and the network they form through the soil helps the plants draw nutrients from a wider area. Plus they help compost. But that is not all, no, that is not all…

A recent study had revealed that they actually act as underground transmitters when  a plant is in distress. That’s right, they herald the cry of war in the deep, dark, dank underground.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland used five bean plants. Three were planted together, and the mycelium were allowed to grow between them in their usual fashion. The other two plants were planted together but inhibited from having mycelium in their soil. And then they botanist unleashed the hounds on them. Well, they unleashed aphids which is the rotany equivalent.

The plant that was attacked by aphids began emitting chemicals that help to attract wasps, something that many plants do when in distress. And while this is amazing enough, it’s hardly news. But this is: the plants that were connected via underground mycelium began also to produce the “distress” chemicals. But when aphids were released on the mycelium-free plant, it’s neighbor did not produce chemicals.

Previously, botanists believed that this chemical transmission was via the air from plant to plant. This astounding discovery means that the plants were using the mycelium to communicate. That’s right, folks, there is an entire underground network of mycelium and they are communicating from plant to plant, fungi to fungi.

The findings could turn the tides significantly on how to control pests without chemicals. Most food crops–such as wheat, maize, rice, beans including soy, and barley support a symbiotic fungi.

According to one of the study’s authors, Professor John Pickett of Rothamsted Research:

In a field of plants that have some inducible resistance to aphids, we could use a plant that’s susceptible to aphid  attack to ‘switch on’ the defence mechanism through the natural underground connection. Aphids affect all higher-latitude agricultural regions, including the UK, the EU, North America, and North East Asia and there’s the potential to deal with other pests and diseases, in other regions, in a similar way.

Fungus are unique and classified in their own kingdom (The Kingdom of Fungi!!) because of the cell walls which contain chitin. Animal cells also contain chitin, but plant cells cellulose. Coulld you say they are half-plant, half-human. Almost. In truth, they fit neither group and so are their own kingdom, though generally considered the domain of botanists. (Mycologists and botanists certainly have a symbiotic relationship!)

Roots of nearly all groups of plants have symbiotic fungi.

Never underestimate the power of a mushroom. Stamets doesn’t. And Smurfs don’t.

smurf on mushroom

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Mistletoe: Kiss for the Cure for Cancer

European MistletoeMistletoe

The globular-leafed, green little bunches are synonymous with Christmas cheer of a very romantic variety. But mistletoe may well be more than just an excuse to steal a kiss:  this parasitic little plant could contain the cure for colon and other cancers.

Other common names: All Heal, Birdlime, Devil’s Fuge, Golden Bough, Witches Broom, Wood of the Cross

“Mistletoe” is the common name for a hemiparasitic (semi parasitic–a plant that gains nourishment from the host plant but also photosynthesizes) plant of several families (all within the order Santales.) Some of the most familiar plants we know as mistletoe are the common European variety, Viscum album and the North American species, Phoradendron serotinum, both of which are widely harvested as Christmas decoration.

A very recent study from the University of Adelaide in Australia has shown an extract from the European Viscum that grows specifically on Ash trees, Viscum fraxini, is ” highly effective against colon cancer cells in cell culture and was gentler on healthy intestinal cells compared with chemotherapy. Significantly, Fraxini extract was found to be more potent against cancer cells than the chemotherapy drug.

Yes, you read that right. More potent against cancer cells than the chemotherapy drug. It also has fewer side-effects and is gentler on the system.

Scientists, herbalists, and ethnobotanists have been studying mistletoe for years. It is known to be poisonous, causing stomach pains and other intestinal distress. For centuries the stems and leaves have been used to make an extract to treat sluggish circulatory systems and major respiratory problems.

Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, pioneered the concept of mistletoe as an anti-cancer medicine. A spiritual botanist, Steiner believed that the parasitic nature of the plant could counteract the parasitic nature of a disease like cancer.

It turns out he was right. Scientists have been studying mistletoe’s many varieties for years. In this article published the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, you can see photographs of a tumor virtually disappearing after six months of treatment with the fraxini extract.

Researches at University of Adelaide in Australia extracted three different varieties of mistletoe, all from the Viscum species. Each variety grows on a different kind of tree. The one that grows on the Ash tree so far has proven to be the most effective. However, there are hundreds upon hundreds of types of mistletoe. The potential is actually quite astounding.

In Europe, mistletoe is already being used in the treatment of colon cancer but not it is currently not legal in the United States or Australia, where research is underway to approve it.

Mistletoe is steeped in mythology. Viscum album is thought to be The Golden Bough–the branch that Aeneas must give to the Queen of the Underworld in the epic Greek myth. The Romans believed mistletoe contained divine male essence. The Ancient Druids believed the most sacred mistletoe to be the one that grows on oaks. The Norse believed mistletoe contained the power to resurrect the dead.

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The Ant Fern and Other Oddities: An Informative Rotanical Interview with Bill Barnett

Lecanopteris carnosa or The Ant Fern

Lecanopteris carnosa or The Ant Fern

Lecanopteris carnosa or The Ant Fern

I recently scored an interview with the most horticulturally minded person I know, Bill Barnett. Bill is the manager of Sloat Garden Center on 3rd Avenue (at Clement) in San Francisco. I first met Bill when I was his underling at the retail nursery.  Those in the know, know that this branch of Sloat Garden Center is a secret oasis of rare and thriving gems. There is no plant, odd or otherwise that Bill doesn’t know about. I’ve tried to stump him and only come close once: I found out about a new hybrid of a dianthus about a week before he did (score one for the Rotten Botanist!) Bill knows more about plants than any other human alive. Seriously. And he doesn’t hold a PhD or even a master’s in horticulture. Bill got his knowledge the old-fashioned way: immersion. He has discovered a species and trained me in the ways of the weirdest plants. He introduced me to Black Mondo Grass, for which I am forever grateful.  He is also a master diagnoser of plant diseases and a damn amazing cook.

Bill is pretty old school. I did this interview with him via mail. That’s right, MAIL. Not email. He hand wrote the answers, complete with a tiny botanical illustration of a pitcher plant he is fond of. Probably the only way he’ll read this interview is if I print it and bring it into him.

RB: What is your earliest garden or plant memory?

BB: As a toddler I can remember my mom’s houseplants. My aunts all had the same ones because they traded cuttings. They all had the Achimenes — a member of the African Violet family that goes dormant int he winter. My mom believed that you needed to water it with hot water in the spring to wake it up, but of course you don’t. Everyone just called it the hot water plant. My mom also bought houseplants that were reduced in price at the grocery store because they were fading. They rarely looked any better under her care.

RB: How long have you worked in the horticultural field?

BB: Too long. I have seen evolution occur. 34 years. And I really do believe that plants propagated from plants that “like” captivity have produced progeny that are much easier to grow, in just a few generations instead of eons. Or maybe I’m just a better grower–whatever.

RB: What is your favorite plant (indoor or otherwise)?

BB: I love the Staghorn ferns–all 18 species. There’s nothing else like them. They have the shield leaves that stack up as they grow. The inner shields become compost for the roots and they funnel falling leaves and rain to the roots for even more compost. Another type of leaf hangs into the air and look like the staghorn or antler.

RB: What plant do you despise the most? (and why?)

BB: The Fo-Ti that Pixie planted against the North wall. [Rot Bot note, Pixie is a former colleague and amazing gardener who currently works at Annie’s Annuals. Tell him we said ‘Hi!’] We’ve pulled all of it on this side but it still comes in from the neighbor’s yard. It comes through the drainage holes in the flower box. One tendril found the drainage hole of a pot sitting on a shelf and rooted into the hole. We all now hate it. It taunts us through the fence.

RB: Is there a particularly bizarre plant that you think Rotten Botanists should know about?

BB: I bought the weirdest plant from a grower from the Philippines at the orchid expo this year. It’s a fern called Lecanopteris carnosa or the Ant Fern. It is an epiphyte. The base looks like a green potato and seems to have hardly any roots. The leaves are pretty fern like. It likes to grow in the sun and get bone dry between soakings. The base grows in one direction and as it does the rear portion dies and becomes dry and black and hollow. Stinging ants move into the backroom. They’re not squatters–they work for their lodging. At any vibration from something munching on the leaves they rush out en mass and run the invader off. They groom the leaves of any aphids or scale and they fertilize the roots by dumping all of their food scraps and poop in the yard. My plant is growing well, without ants.

RB: Rumor has it you discovered a species of Sanseveria (snake plant). Can you tell us about that?

BB: It’s a cultivar actually of the normal green ‘snake plant’. Someone was buying it where I was working and I noticed a yellow colored sprout. When they left to get their car I un-potted the plant and replaced it with another green plant because I knew they hadn’t even noticed. It’s called ‘Sunrise’ because the leaves come up plain green and slowly the yellow creeps up the stem and intensifies like the sunlight coming over the horizon. it can take years for full color development. [Rot Bot note: The one Bill gave me about 9 years ago is half yellow now!]

RB: If your house was on fire and you had time to save just ONE plant, what would it be? Why?

I’ve got plants that it would be harder to find or more expensive to replace (if possible). But I love my little Australian pitcher plant, Cephalotus follicularis, so much. It’s a nice clump of the miniature pitchers. They all face away from the center of the group. It looks kinda like a nest of baby birds all with their mouths open for feeding. I feed them frozen baby crickets.

Bill's illustration of Cephalotus follicalaris

Bill’s illustration of Cephalotus follicalaris

The Strangler Fig

A random photo from the interwebs. I will upload photos of the stranglers I saw in So America once I get around to scanning them. The trip was prior to the digital age.

The Strangler Fig

Family: Moraceae (Mulberry)

Ficus spp.

Sound like something from a horror movie? Well, its behavior certainly is.  The rotten habits of the Strangler Fig have earned this type of Ficus its dastardly nick-name.

Strangler Fig is a common term for several species of Ficus that grow in tropical and subtropical forests throughout the world,  and the term can even be used to refer to any vine that exhibits the behavior similar (sucking the life out of its host plant while it thrives). As there are more than 150 species of Strangler figs in the New World forests alone, I’m going to focus mainly on the ones in Central and South America. Several years ago, on an ethonobotanical sojourn to a Peruvian rainforest, the tale of the Stranglers was relayed to me by one of our local guides and has haunted me ever since.

In a very general sense, the Strangler Figs are considered Banyans, as Banyans are defined as a fig that starts out as an epiphyte. This is very common because most species (if not all) of Ficus produce small fruits (figs!) which birds, bats, monkeys and other small animals dine on, thus distributing the seeds via their waste, to all manner of cracks and crevices of a host tree. (This is not to be confused with the Ficus benghalensis, or Indian banyan which is the national tree of India.)

In the competitive world of the tropical forest, sunlight and compost are hot commodities. The Strangler fig has figured out exactly how to get what it needs.Once the animal has left behind the seed, which is now nestled in a crook of a tree covered in fertilizer (aka animal feces) it is only a matter of hours before it starts to thrive. Slowly it grows roots, which begin to reach down toward the soil below. The roots can grow hundreds of feet long, and eventually form a lattice-like network around the tree’s trunk and into its root system. It also grows up toward the sunlight, eventually shading the host tree from sunlight. In this way the Strangler fig is slowly but surely strangling the life out of its host tree. It is robbing the nutrients from the ground, gobbling up the sunlight above, and using the structure to wrap ever tighter and grow ever larger. More often than not the Strangler Fig kills its host, though some have shown enough mercy to let the host tree live–though it is only a shadow of the life they once had.

You wouldn’t necessarily notice if you strolled by one. You might just think you see a big, beautiful, healthy Ficus tree. But upon closer inspection you’ll see the “trunk” is a network of roots, its support being the carcass inside.

Strangler figs do play an important role in the ecology of forests, including providing rotanical homes for bats and other small animals as well as food for a wide variety of species.

A very wonderful and menacing plant in the kingdom of Rotten Botany.

 

 

 

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Global Flower Trade Turns Rotten

This is a very interesting article and a topic of discussion for many years now among floral designers and gardenesses and even herbalists who advocate against wildcrafting.

Give it a read and let me know your thoughts.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17343037?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=greenmeme

The Nightmare Before Christmas Tree

Corokia cotoneaster ‘Little Prince’ 

Also called: Wire Netting Bush

Family: Cornaceae

One of the most unusual plants growing in my garden is the gnarled, twisted little shrub Corokia cotoneaster–what I like to refer to as “The Nightmare Before Christmas Tree.” Grey leaves growing upon black, zig-zagged stems may lead the untrained eye to think that this member of the Dogwood family is already dead. Prune it back to showcase its twisted form and add a little up lighting and you can get a spooky effect worthy of the most haunted of houses!

Macabre beauty aside, Corokia often appears in groomed commercial landscaping with golden cypress and crimson Japanese maples because of its contrasting color and interesting shape. ‘Little Prince’ is my personal favorite variety because its stems seem to be particularly black, and it grows much slower than the other varieties (it is a dwarf) and therefore lends itself very nicely to container gardening.

This plant looks amazing on a little mound, surrounded by a green moss or chartreuse Selaginella and circled with Black Mondo grass. It does produce small yellow flowers (not showy) followed by tiny berries, but again these are what we’d call in the botanical world “insignificant.”

Hardy to most climates, I’ve seen it in the dead of winter reaching out from a snowy bed like a skeletal finger.

Culture~

Height: 3-4 ft .

Hardiness:

Hardy to 20 degrees and I’ve seen it in the dead of winter reaching out from a snowy bed like a skeletal finger!

Full sun in milder climates, plant it in a shadier spot if you live somewhere that gets extra hot. Can survive pretty well in either!

Native to New Zealand.

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The Lovely Lilies of Death

The Lovely Lilies of Death! Who knew you could grow such novelties as Black Callas, Vampire Liles, Voodoo Liles, and more? The Rotten Botanist, that’s who! This week, Rotten Botany is “dead”icated to some of my all time favorite flowers–what I call the lovely lilies of death. Today, we begin with The Black Calla.

The Black Calla Lily

Botanical Name: Arum palaestinum

Family: Tracheae

You know those classic funereal flowers so often draped across a coffin or propped up in the corner of the parlor room during a wake? They are white with a yellow spike in the center, and if you grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area they very likely grew in your back yard. That would be the classic white Calla Lily,  Zantedeschia aethiopica. The Black Calla Lily, Arum palaestinum, is not a true Calla Lily though they are both members of the same greater family, Araceae. The Black Calla’s spathe is terribly special! Usually it has a greenish exterior that unfurl to reveal a the deep maroon color of the flower with an intensely black spike (spadix) thrusting out of the middle. with a tapered tip that dangles behind it like a tail.  In milder climates, like the one I live in, this plant can can be grown outdoors. Like its distant cousin the white calla, it thrives in sandy soil and can be planted in the shade to partial shade. In climates with a colder snap in the winter it is better suited to be a hot-house or houseplant. But be cautious. Like many of its morbid cousins, there is a faint fetid odor that is emitted when this plant is in full bloom. This is thought to attract its pollinators, usually flies and gnats.

Culture~

Height: Grows from 18-24”.

Hardiness: to 25 º

Light shade, regular water, mildly acidic soil.  Quite likes neglect.

Original native of the Middle East

You can keep it in a pot for a long time, just remember that it dies back completely and loves the rain, so mark the pot well and set it out somewhere it will absorb rain for the winter. Don’t let the “empty” pot fool you! Mine produced only leaves for several years and then bammo! One year in mid-April it bloomed in all its glory.

My Black Calla in bloom!


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Rotten Botany

Welcome to the dark side of gardening–Rotten Botany. Here you will find plants of the unusual variety–dark flowering, black leaves, poisonous, magical, monstrous–all have a home in my garden. You will find lore and tales of terror along with botanical care and feeding. From carnivorous plants to cataclysmic odoriferous Callas, Rotten Botany seeks to introduce the simply sinister and fully fetid floras in the known universe. Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes your garden grow stronger.

Arum palaestinum
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