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Horticulture News and Tips

(A monthly horticulture column from the CF NEWS)


One native wildflower that always brings a smile to my face where ever it may
pop up is Arisaema triphyllum or aptly nicknamed Jack-in the-Pulpit.

I have never planted it in my garden yet it has popped up in several places, thanks to birds that must have eaten its bright red fruits. I know most of you are familiar with this intriguing native whose odd flower consists of a green or purple striped pouch-shaped spathe with an overhanging hood that surrounds a digit like central spadix. Producing one or two lobed leaves it grows to 12"- 18" in height although I have seen it attain greater stature if given optimum conditions. It prefers shade and humus rich moist soil. By late summer the spathe will have died back to reveal a single stem topped by a clump of bright red fruits which contain the seeds.

If you enjoy our native species you may be tempted to try some of its foreign cousins. Arisaema sikokianum (Japanese Cobra Lily) is native to Japan but does well here in zones 5-9.

It thrives in very much the same conditions as its American relative. From a tuber it will grow to 24". It produces a pair of five-lobed tropical looking leaves. The spathe is a deep chocolate purple on the outside and a crisp pure white on the inside with a purple, green and white striped hood. The club-shaped spadix is such a pure white it seems to radiate light. They are a little pricey, usually about $25.00 a plant but for those who like the unusual it is a must have.

I am one who is attracted to the unusual so a few years ago in late spring on a whim I purchased a bag of corms labeled "VooDoo Lillies". They weren't expensive and the name intrigued me so I brought them home and planted them. I didn't see any sign of life for the rest of the summer. I figured a vole must have feasted on the corms so I chalked it up to nothing ventured nothing gained. The following spring I didn't give them a second thought until one morning I was doing my usual garden stroll when I caught a whiff of something awful. I remember thinking to myself 'what did the darn cat catch this time?' In order to remove what I thought would be a carcass of some sort I followed the buzzing sounds of flies and to my surprise it wasn't a half eaten bird carcass it was one of the "VooDoo Lillies"! I later found out this particular species emits a foul odor for only a short period of time to attract flies and other insects for pollination purposes. How lucky was I? Besides the extremely unpleasant scent it was almost alien in appearance. The twisted brownish yellow spathe was internally mottled a sickly yellow and deep reddish purple. The "hood" of the spathe elongated over the next few days and flopped over backwards to reveal a long protruding, tapering maroon spadix resembling an alien's tongue. The leaves which appear after the flower are just as unusual. The petiole was similarly mottled as the spathe with a semicircular blade that was pedately lobed, reaching a height of about 2 feet. It turns out my 'VooDoo Lillies" were really Typhonium venosum a.k.a. Sauromatum venosum. Natives of Asia they belong to the Family: Araceae. Thus making them a distant relative of our native Jack!
I must admit the following year they did not flower although they did produce leaves but that was the last I saw (or smelled) of them. My recommendation is this... if your expectations aren't too high but you're still willing to give the extraordinary a try (or you just have a morbid curiosty) you may want to add
Typhonium venosum to your Araceae family tree.

Liz Rinaldi,
Horticulture Chair


"In the Garden"
(Monthly horticulture tips for gardeners)


  • Time to plant the vegetable garden
  • Tend and enjoy your roses!
  • Use organic fertilizer
  • Use watering can so foliage won't get wet
  • Remove leaves with fungus or black spot immediately
  • Plant garlic, chives and rue near to ward off Japanese beetles
  • Stake tall perennials


  • Stake tomatoes and beans
  • Tend newly planted perennials


  • Decide the plants you have enjoyed
  • Tie a colored ribbon around ones you'd like to give another home
  • Stop deadheading plants with good seed heads for the birds to feed on in winter


  • Put down compost and/or organic fertilizer
  • Take cuttings of impatiens, coleus or begonias for flowers in your home all winter
  • Prepare houseplants to bring inside
  • Do this when outside & inside temperatures are the same
  • Check and spray for insects
  • Select bulbs for fall planting


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Last updated
May 31, 2017