In a quiet moment in the middle of our garden festival last week, Mark must have been suffering from boredom to be so mischievous as to tell a garden visitor that this flower had just eaten a mouse. She actually believed him too, until he twiddled the long tendril which comes out from the flower and resembles a mouse tail. She wasn’t sufficiently gullible to believe that the mouse was still alive. But this extraordinary flower is decidedly reptilian in appearance.
You certainly won’t find this plant on the shelves at your local garden centre. Mark spent many years hoping to be given one of the rare bulbs and it finally came to pass last year so this is its first flowering for us. At this stage, it is strictly who you know when it comes to acquiring this plant. Dahaiense comes from the Yunnan area of China although this strain was collected somewhere round the Burmese border area. In the wild, it has been photographed at close to two metres in height but our plant has yet to reach anywhere near that stature.
There are a whole range of different arisaemas and some are much more spectacular than others. They are a most curious genus being true hermaphrodites. When the plant is strong and robust, it becomes female and able to set seed but when it is immature or feeling a little weak and poorly it becomes male and is only capable of pollen donation. We will say no more on that topic.
Mark has spent some years gathering all the different species available here and hybridising to get some unique forms to use in the garden. He has a large number of spring flowering plants which hold their cobra-like heads above the foliage (most species hide their flowers below the leaves) and his summer flowering forms extend the colour from the more usual brown or greenish flowers into pinks and burgundies. They are not pretty but they are certainly interesting and nobody else has bedding plants quite like our arisaemas. Dahaiense has opened a whole new range of possibilities as a pollen donor this year.