Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum)

The leaves of this plant are a distinctive arrow shape (Cupid’s perhaps?) with small purple patches or spots. These will be just visible now, although the flower spikes will not be obvious

Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum)

until April. The ‘hood’ of the flower spike is called a spathe with the club like spadix nested inside. This is not a flower but an elaborate fly trap aimed at attracting pollinators. The reproductive organs are hidden from view at the base of the spadix. Fertilized female flowers will develop into bright red poisonous berries.

In Elizabethan times, the starchy roots were use to stiffen the then fashionable linen ruffs. This unusual plant has various local names including ‘cuckoopint’, possibly derived from ‘cuckold’ – a man whose wife has been unfaithful, ‘sweethearts’, ‘silly lovers’ and ‘Adam and Eve’. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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