Wednesday, May 17, 2006

J is for Japanese Cobra Lily

This was my indulgent purchase after not being able to find anything at last weekend's pottery festival. The plant's botanical name is Arisaema sikokianum. It is also know as a Jack-in-the-Pulpit flower. I guess Jack in this case would be the small white protrusion (spadix) in the middle of the flower and it is about the size and shape of a miniature marshmallow. Varieties native to the US are also called Indian Turnips.

This flower was planted in my garden this weekend and is in a shady spot that gets a little sunlight. The tag says well drained soil too. I've never tried to grow one of these in my garden - so I hope I don't kill it. The picture below shows how the back of the flower resembles the hood of a cobra snake.

This variety is from Japan, but there are other varieties that can be found in the woods of North America. The American Indians used them medicinally to treat rheumatism and bronchitis and to induce sterility. Externally it was used as a treatment for snakebite. The plant was also used for food (probably where the turnip name comes from) - but the plant can be toxic. So I wouldn't recommend trying that out.

And for the art buffs out there, Georgia O'Keeffe painted a series of jack-in-the-pulpit flowers in 1930. Five of the six canvases can be seen on the website for the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Keep your eyes open for them while hiking through the woods. In North Carolina, I think you would be most likely to find them near running water and in a slightly shady spot. They certainly are a sight to see!

10 comments:

Bezzie said...

Wow, that's a striking plant. No snake pun intended. Great J!

Zonda said...

That is an amazing plant! Wow! Great job! :)

Jennifer said...

Gorgeous.

Carolyn said...

Fabulous photos! What a beautiful exotic plant. I hope it grows well for you.

Catherine said...

Oh wow! That is so beautiful! It reminds me of a calla lily and an orchid combined. :-) Just lovely!

aija said...

That is so beautiful!!

Sarah said...

Wow! What an amazing flower! I'm hoping you don't kill it too! Nice photo as well....

And, nice bowls!

Mom said...

Gorgeous! You're lucky you are out of zone 5!!

k-good-row said...

That is amazing! I'd love to wake up and see that in the morning while I drink my coffee. Instead, I see an unmowed lawn, some over grown trees and dog poo.

turtlegirl76 said...

Oh neat! I wanna say that "Jack" is another term for "bishop" which makes sense when you look at that little knobby thing protruding out of the middle.