Narrow-leaved Biarum - Biarum arundanum
by Tony Hall
This is a plant that you will most likely smell long before you see it!
It is a small, tuberous autumn - flowering perennialin the arum family (Araceae), growing to around 20cm tall, with the leaves appearing after flowering. The leaves are 10-25cm long, oblanceolate and unlobed, but sometimes with an undulating margin. The inflorescence grows directly out of the ground and is stalkless and made up of two main parts, the spathe and the spadix. The brownish-purplespathe is tongue-shaped and hood-like. The erect spadix,often exceeding the spathe, is up to 30cm long (usually shorter), deep purple or brown, cylindrical, tapering towards the tip and has tiny separate male and female flowers in dense whorls on its lower part.
The pungent strong smell that is produced from the inflorescence works to attract flies for pollination and for a small plant it certainly gets your attention! Once pollinated, clusters of small whitish berries, each containing a single seed, are produced.