Tuesday, 15 May 2012

THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE SINISTER

Have been looking around the hillside and am struck by the number of sinister plants there are, some of them also beautiful. The other day I spotted a strange phallic object that had snaked out of bare earth. Took photographs, looked it up, and found it is called the Voodoo Lily, apparently a favoured house plant in some parts of the world because the corm flowers minus any soil -- put it on your window sill and there's the flower, in a few days. I wouldn't allow it anywhere near my house though. It's single petal falls in a revolting leathery fold on to the ground and is spotted, like snakeskin. The mile-long stamen looks like a sting. To attract flies, which are its main pollinators, the lily gives off a foul stink, like that of carrion. And after the flower falls off it develops a red corn like seed -- I know of a child in the neighbourhood who almost died because she ate a tiny bit of that cob, attracted by its pretty colour.

After the flower falls off, the plant develops a pretty necklace of leaves. But grazing animals, being wiser than humans in some things, know it's not a salad plant and give it a wide berth.


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