Thursday, August 7, 2008
Arum italicum is an odd plant that is, paradoxically, both coming into and passing out of interest right now. The fruit, which consists of green berries which ripen to a showy orange-red, is clustered on what was the spadix (if you imagine the bloom of a Jack-in-the-pulpit, which is in the same family, the spadix would be "Jack", and the hood-like "pulpit" is called the spathe). The spadix, with its clinging berries, is all that remains of the plant now, and the berries are disappearing as they ripen.
On the up-side, it seems that the mockingbirds are the cause of the disappearances. I watched a group of them swooping down around a cluster of berried stalks. The various individuals then tried to hop up and grab a berry (missing, and subsequently looking very awkward, sometimes).
So, while the missing ripe fruit would be of interest in itself, the bird show has made up for it.
Look for the leaves, which typically have a marbled appearace due to near white venation, to reappear either in late Fall or early next Spring, depending on the weather.