Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Arisaema murrayi

Arisaema is a large genus containing many superb plants. Some are widely grown whilst others are very rare in cultivation and infrequently seen. For years, Arisaema murrayi most definitely fell into the latter category. It is a stunningly beautiful plant, and yet frustratingly, did not appear to be in cultivation and was impossible to source.

Thankfully the situation is slowly changing and now Arisaema murrayi can look forward to a bright future among Arisaema growers and more conventional gardeners alike. My small mail order nursery was the first UK source for material of this species, as far as I'm aware. I imagine that ultimately, this species will find its way into tissue culture or large scale commercial cultivation of some sort. Virtually all (if not all) of the plants in cultivation in the West today originate thanks to wild  seed collections made by Pascal Bruggeman. 

Greens, browns, reds and numerous shades of maroon are common colours within the Arisaema genus. Arisaema murrayi is remarkable in having a fuchsia pink band between the white spathe limb and the green spathe tube. This bright splash of colour combined with the elegant shape of the spathe tube and the thin spadix make a superb display. 

Arisaema murrayi grows in the Western Ghats - a long mountain range running along the Western side of the Indian peninsular. The whole region is renowned for its plant life and high biodiversity, along with it's intense monsoon rains! It is the start of these rains that stirs Arisaema murrayi out of its dormancy and into rapid growth. Flowering occurs in June. 

Sadly I failed to pollinate my two flowering sized plants last year, something I am very keen to achieve this year. Inflorescence's are bisexual, and originating from wild seed collections, they should carry the full range of genetic variation. The pink banding is actually quite a variable characteristic, being much more intense in some specimens than in others and pure white spathes are not unheard of, reminding me of the variation seen between different forms of Arisaema candidissimum. 

This year I have been fortunate enough to acquire some very small tubers of Arisaema murrayi var. sonubeniae - a form with a lilac spathe limb instead of the white of the normal form and a scarlet band between the limb and green spathe tube. 

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