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help me identify a plant

Beverly Erlebacher bae at cs.toronto.edu
Fri May 22 13:28:15 EST 1998

In article <AQT81.104$Er.183588 at news.internetmci.com>,
steve patterson <stpatter at mci2000.com> wrote:
>A plant showed up a few years ago in some dirt brought in to the yard.  It
>is about 30 inches tall with a large stem, light green with lighter spots.
>The bloom is about 10 inches tall and the color of dried blood.  The bloom
>resembles the shape of a cana lily with an exagerated point, there is a
>stamin  about the diameter of the stem that sticks up out of the flower
>about 8 inches and is a little darker color than the flower itself. Also the
>flower has a cup at the bottom of the flower that emits a strong smell of
>rotten meat.
>If anyone can help me with this I would appreciate it.

It's definitely an arum of some kind (member of the Araceae family), but
without some idea of where you live and what the climate is like there, 
there isn't much hope of telling just what you have.

The color and stench of the inflorescence are there to resemble carrion
and attract flies to pollinate the flowers.  The outer 'petal' part is
called a spathe, and is actually a modified leaf (in callas (Zantedeschia
spp) which are arums, too!).  The thing that sticks up is called a spadix 
and is covered with minute flowers.  In some species there are male flowers 
on the top part of the spadix and female flowers on the lower part, while 
in others male and female flowers occur on separate plants.   Hold your 
breath and examine the spadix - it may help you identify the plant.

Off the top of my head, you may have the Eurasian plant Dracunculus vulgaris,
which now has another name I can't remember, but it may well be some other 

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