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ARACEAE

ARUM FAMILY

Elizabeth McClintock

In CA perennial herb, terrestrial or aquatic, from short, generally erect caudex, often monoecious; elsewhere shrub, vine, or growing on other plant
Stems sometimes above ground in addition to caudex
Leaves simple or compound, basal (or cauline and 2-ranked)
Inflorescence: generally spike, fleshy, generally ill-smelling; flowers generally many, bisexual or pistillate below, staminate above; bract subtending spike 1, generally showy (petal-like), generally > spike, sometimes sheathing
Flower: perianth parts 4 or 6, free or fused; stamens generally 0, 4, or 6, free or fused; ovary superior to half-inferior and sunken in inflorescence axis, chambers 1–3, stigma ± sessile
Fruit: berry
Seeds 1–many
Genera in family: ± 110 genera, 1800 species: generally tropical, subtropical. Some cultivated for food (Colocasia , taro) or ornamental (Philodendron, Anthurium )
Reference: [Wilson 1960 J Arnold Arbor 41:47–63]
Needle-like crystals in most tissues cause intense irritation when chewed; those of Dieffenbachia, dumb-cane, may induce temporary speechlessness.

ARUM

Perennial, terrestrial, monoecious
Leaves basal; blade flat, hastate to sagittate; petiole ± = or > blade
Inflorescence < bract, tip with cylindric appendage; peduncle < petiole; bract ± tubular, enclosing inflorescence at base, withering before fruit; flowers pistillate near base, staminate above, generally sterile between
Staminate flower: perianth 0; stamens 3–4
Pistillate flower: ovary chamber 1
Species in genus: ± 15 species: Eurasia, n Africa
Etymology: (Greek: ancient name)
Some cultivated as ornamental or for food (A. maculatum rhizomes edible when thoroughly cooked).

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