Alison Jane Harley

- botanical and floral artist -

Mystery plant – but you know what it is….

8 February 2021

I spotted some lovely variegated leaves today while walking through a piece of wasteland where the main plants growing in summer are Dog roses, Japanese knotweed and brambles. Well it isn’t summer, it’s February, and I saw something so exotic it stopped me in my tracks. I took a photo and with the use of plantnet (https://identify.plantnet.org/), I was amazed to discover it is what’s commonly known as Italian arum, Arum italicum. It was only when I saw photos of other elements of the plant on the site that I realised I had actually been unwittingly photographing this at various stages of its development throughout the year thinking I had come across a highly unusual specimen. I first spotted the strange looking rigid stalks with berries on top in June 2020 near Hondarribia in the Basque country in Spain, and took some photos.

Arum italicum (June 2020 – Basque country)

In February I snapped some more with leaves only that was growing along the banks of the river Seine in France. Today was the first time that I have put the elements together seen the full leaves that go with the berries. And….apparently it is rampant in some areas depending on the conditions – wow. My mission this year is to sketch and paint an Italian arum lily and now I know where to find all elements as the plant evolves through the season.

Arum italicum (leaves)- February 2021

I will not be tempted to dissect or dig up a sample though as it is growing too close to the dreaded Japanese knotweed which I once also found very attractive, although now at the very sight of which I can feel it’s roots wrapping round my ankles and following me home….

Common name: Italian arum (back of leaf)

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