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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.

LYSICHITON

Perennial, terrestrial
Leaves basal; petiole < blade, stout; blade flat, ovate to oblanceolate
Inflorescence < bract; peduncle < leaves, stout; bract boat-shaped, base sheathing peduncle, partly enclosing inflorescence, deciduous
Flower bisexual; perianth parts 4, fused at base; ovary partly embedded in inflorescence axis, chambers 2
Species in genus: 2 species: ne Asia, w North America
Etymology: (Greek: loosening tunic, from deciduous bract)

Native

L. americanus Hultén & H. St. John

YELLOW SKUNK CABBAGE


Leaves appearing generally in spring after flower; blade 30–150 cm, ± fleshy, midvein thick, graduated into thick, wide petiole
Inflorescence < 12 cm, ± 2.5 cm thick; peduncle 3–5 dm; bract < 20 cm, lemon-yellow
Flower yellow-green, ill-smelling
Fruit greenish white
Ecology: Uncommon. Marshy areas, stream edges, generally in coniferous forest
Elevation: < 1300 m.
Bioregional distribution: North Coast, San Francisco Bay Area
Distribution outside California: to Alaska, Montana, Idaho
Horticultural information: WET(fresh water): 4, 5 &SHD: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.

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