Species of the day: Lords-and-Ladies

, 21 May 2020
Species of the day: Lords-and-Ladies
Lords-and-Ladies © Neil Fletcher

By James Duncan

Learning & Engagement Officer

Lords-and-ladies (Arum maculatum) is a common perennial plant, often forming clumps in shady woodlands, hedgerows, scrubland and gardens - pretty much anywhere with damp, nutrient-rich soil. You may well know it by another name, for in parallel with its common distribution it also happens to have a simply staggering assortment of vernacular names. In fact, it's likely these names total well over a hundred. An overwhelming majority of these have a connotation with love and sexual desire, relating to the plant's highly unusual curvaceous appearance and apparent suggestiveness to male and female genitalia. Even the commonly known alternative of 'Cuckoo Pint' is derived from pintle, which is an Old English word for the male genitalia. The most polite explanation for referencing Cuckoo may simply infer a similar flowering time to the arrival of the migrant bird. Lords-and-ladies itself is of course a tad suggestive, but no more so than other names such as 'Adam and Eve', 'Cows and Bulls', 'Sweethearts' and 'Silly lovers.' Lords-and-ladies itself may actually have arisen in Victorian times to 'cover-up' some of the more colourful vernacular, many of which are really quite lewd. It's undoubtedly a plant that has stirred the human imagination and ultimately there's probably a common name to suit everyone's taste. 

Whatever the name, Arum maculatum has a fascinatingly ingenious method of reproduction. Its strategy relates quite typically to attracting insects, but its approach is rather unusual. Early in the year it appears no different from any other, the large arrow-shaped leaves appearing on a long stalk and sometimes with dark spots. It's only in mid-spring that a fleshy leaf-like hood appears from the ground, the so-called spathe. This may be white-ish or purple-ish in colour and it's only as it unfurls that it reveals a poker-shaped inflorescence called a spadix - this arrangement is the root of all the racy common names, but is technically a fabulous fly-trap. Within the deceptive cloak of the spathe lie the true flowers, which are submerged toward the base. The purpose of the spadix is to emit a rather pungent stench as a means to attract insects, predominantly small flies such as midges. The spadix is able to raise the ambient temperature and may smell particularly foetid in the evening when the chemicals produced become volatile. The spathe will entrap the insects, imprisoning them beneath a ring of backward-pointing hairs derived from sterile male flowers. The seed-producing female flowers are located right at the bottom and offer a suitable secreted reward for the prisoners. Assuming they've already visited another Arum, pollination will occur. At night, a selection of male flowers (located above the female flowers) will 'rain' pollen onto the flies and the hairs will wither, finally releasing them (or at least some of them) from their prison, setting them off to pollinate another individual. Timing for ths whole process is critical.

Eventually the spathe will wither away and all that will be left is the freshly fertilised female flowers, a small spike of fruits, a common sight in woodland in autumn when they eventually ripen and turn bright red. They may look tempting, but Lords-and-ladies is highly toxic. The saponins contained within the berries make them acrid and serve as an irritant, promoting swelling, burning and difficulty breathing. This isn't the case for all animals and the berries are routinely eaten, often by Pheasants. The spadix itself is also rather tempting to a variety of rodents, perhaps enticed by the warmth and smell created. The whole plant should be handled with the utmost of care for the sap produced may cause allergic reactions, blistering and burning. Interestingly, Lords-and-ladies has actually seen use over the ages, its root tubers collected to provide starch for laundering linens and Elizabethan ruffs, giving it the alternative name of 'Starchwort.'

L & L © Neil Fletcher (2)

Fertilised female flowers © Neil Fletcher

Comments

  • hydraruzxpnew4af.onion

    <a href=https://hydraruxpnew4af.com>hydraclubbioknikokex7njhwuahc2l67lfiz7z36md2jvopda7nchid.onion</a>

    09 Dec 2021 15:15:22

  • [url=http://ivermectin2022.com/]buy ivermectin[/url]

    28 Feb 2022 13:03:42

  • [url=http://azithromycinzithromax.monster/]generic for zithromax[/url]

    28 Feb 2022 19:52:52

  • [url=https://minipress.monster/]minipress for ptsd[/url]

    28 Feb 2022 23:42:49

  • [url=http://propecia.cfd/]cost of 1mg propecia[/url]

    01 Mar 2022 01:51:11

  • [url=http://levofloxacin.online/]levaquin online[/url]

    01 Mar 2022 05:19:53

  • [url=https://doxycycline.xyz/]medication doxycycline 100mg[/url]

    01 Mar 2022 07:15:49

  • [url=https://bestcialispillnorx.monster/]cialis|buy cialis|generic cialis|cialis pills|buy cialis online|cialis for sale[/url]

    01 Mar 2022 19:12:07

  • [url=http://bestviagra100tablet.quest/]viagra for sale[/url]

    02 Mar 2022 00:07:49

  • [url=https://orderviagra150mgwithnoprescription.monster/]viagra for sale[/url]

    02 Mar 2022 03:28:50

Debug Message - Perch Runway 3.2
[957] SELECT p.pagePath, pr.routePattern, pr.routeRegExp, p.pageTemplate, pr.routeOrder, s.settingValue AS siteOffline FROM swt_pages_staging p LEFT JOIN swt_page_routes pr ON p.pageID=pr.pageID LEFT JOIN swt_settings s ON s.settingID='siteOffline' UNION SELECT NULL AS pagePath, pr2.routePattern, pr2.routeRegExp, pr2.templatePath AS pageTemplate, pr2.routeOrder, NULL AS siteOffline FROM swt_page_routes pr2 WHERE templateID!=0 ORDER BY routeOrder ASC, pagePath ASC
Matched route: news/[slug:s]
Server address: 3.238.121.7
Using master page: /templates/pages/blog/post.php
Page arguments:
Array
(
    [0] => /news/species-of-the-day-lords-and-ladies
    [s] => species-of-the-day-lords-and-ladies
    [1] => species-of-the-day-lords-and-ladies
)
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/news/post' LIMIT 1
[75] SELECT DISTINCT settingID, settingValue FROM swt_settings WHERE userID=0
[1] SELECT locationID FROM swt_shop_tax_locations WHERE locationIsHome=1 LIMIT 1
INSERT INTO swt_shop_cart(memberID,locationID,currencyID,cartPricing,cartProperties) VALUES(NULL,'1',47,'standard','[]')
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_shop_cart WHERE cartID=2184856
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_shop_cart WHERE cartID=2184856
[nil] SELECT * FROM swt_shop_sales WHERE saleFrom<='2024-07-16 05:30:00' AND saleTo>'2024-07-16 05:30:00' AND saleActive=1 AND saleDeleted IS NULL ORDER BY saleOrder ASC
[1] SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS DISTINCT tbl.* FROM ( SELECT idx.itemID, main.*, idx2.indexValue as sortval FROM swt_blog_index idx JOIN swt_blog_posts main ON idx.itemID=main.postID AND idx.itemKey='postID' JOIN swt_blog_index idx2 ON idx.itemID=idx2.itemID AND idx.itemKey='postID' AND idx2.indexKey='_id' WHERE 1=1 AND ((idx.indexKey='postSlug' AND idx.indexValue='species-of-the-day-lords-and-ladies')) AND idx.itemID=idx2.itemID AND idx.itemKey=idx2.itemKey GROUP BY idx.itemID, idx2.indexValue, postID ) as tbl WHERE (postStatus='Published' AND postDateTime<='2024-07-16 05:30:00' ) GROUP BY itemID, sortval ORDER BY sortval ASC LIMIT 0, 10
[1] SELECT FOUND_ROWS() AS `count`
Fetching from cache: perch_blog_post_categoriesb294ff70aa0ad64eb3a0ec3431867215
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_blog_posts WHERE postID=2162 AND postStatus='Published' AND postDateTime<='2024-07-16 05:30:00'
[13] SELECT * FROM swt_blog_sections ORDER BY sectionTitle ASC
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_blogs ORDER BY blogTitle ASC
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_categories WHERE catID=191 LIMIT 1
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_categories WHERE catID=51 LIMIT 1
Caching: perch_blog_post_categoriesb294ff70aa0ad64eb3a0ec3431867215
Using template: /templates/blog/post.html
[151] SELECT catID, catPath FROM swt_categories
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_blog_posts WHERE postStatus='Published' AND postDateTime<='2024-07-16 05:30:00' AND postSlug='species-of-the-day-lords-and-ladies'
Using template: /templates/blog/post.html
[250] SELECT country, countryID FROM swt_shop_countries WHERE countryActive=1 ORDER BY country ASC
Using template: /templates/pages/attributes/seo.html
[1] SELECT regionID, regionTemplate, regionPage, regionRev AS rev FROM swt_content_regions WHERE regionKey='Banner image' AND (regionPage='/news/post' OR regionPage='*')
[nil] SELECT * FROM ( SELECT idx.itemID, c.regionID, idx.pageID, c.itemJSON, idx2.indexValue as sortval FROM swt_content_index idx JOIN swt_content_items c ON idx.itemID=c.itemID AND idx.itemRev=c.itemRev AND idx.regionID=c.regionID JOIN swt_content_index idx2 ON idx.itemID=idx2.itemID AND idx.itemRev=idx2.itemRev AND idx2.indexKey='_order' WHERE ((idx.regionID=104 AND idx.itemRev=0)) AND idx.itemID=idx2.itemID AND idx.itemRev=idx2.itemRev ) as tbl GROUP BY itemID, pageID, itemJSON, sortval, regionID ORDER BY sortval ASC
[85] SELECT * FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageNew=0 AND pageHidden=0 AND pageDepth >=0 AND pageDepth<=2 ORDER BY pageTreePosition ASC
[1] SELECT pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/news/post' LIMIT 1
[2] SELECT pageID FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageTreePosition IN ('000-006-001', '000-006', '000') ORDER BY pageTreePosition DESC
Using template: /templates/navigation/ps_nav_template.html
[6] Using template: /templates/navigation/ps_nav_template_children.html
[6] Using template: /templates/navigation/ps_nav_template_children.html
[29] Using template: /templates/navigation/ps_nav_template_children.html
[9] Using template: /templates/navigation/ps_nav_template_children.html
[3] Using template: /templates/navigation/ps_nav_template_children.html
[7] Using template: /templates/navigation/ps_nav_template_children.html
[9] Using template: /templates/navigation/ps_nav_template_children.html
[1] SELECT pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/news/post' OR pageSortPath='/news/post' LIMIT 1
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageHidden=0 AND pageNew=0 AND pageTreePosition IN ('000-006-001', '000-006', '000') ORDER BY pageTreePosition
[1] Using template: /templates/navigation/breadcrumbs.html
Using template: /templates/blog/post.html
Fetching from cache: perch_blog_author_for_post6aad3fb9b598405c909a8f79a2a0ec8e
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_blog_authors WHERE authorID='19' LIMIT 1
Using template: /templates/blog/author.html
Caching: perch_blog_author_for_post6aad3fb9b598405c909a8f79a2a0ec8e
[1] SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS DISTINCT tbl.* FROM ( SELECT idx.itemID, main.*, idx2.indexValue as sortval FROM swt_blog_index idx JOIN swt_blog_posts main ON idx.itemID=main.postID AND idx.itemKey='postID' JOIN swt_blog_index idx2 ON idx.itemID=idx2.itemID AND idx.itemKey='postID' AND idx2.indexKey='_id' WHERE 1=1 AND ((idx.indexKey='postSlug' AND idx.indexValue='species-of-the-day-lords-and-ladies')) AND idx.itemID=idx2.itemID AND idx.itemKey=idx2.itemKey GROUP BY idx.itemID, idx2.indexValue, postID ) as tbl WHERE (postStatus='Published' AND postDateTime<='2024-07-16 05:30:00' ) GROUP BY itemID, sortval ORDER BY sortval ASC LIMIT 0, 1
[1] SELECT FOUND_ROWS() AS `count`
[1] Using template: /templates/blog/post.html
Using template: /templates/blog/comment_form.html
[10] SELECT * FROM swt_blog_comments WHERE 1=1 AND postID=2162 AND commentStatus='LIVE' ORDER BY FIELD(webmentionType, 'like', 'repost', 'comment', NULL) ASC, commentDateTime ASC
[10] Using template: /templates/blog/comment.html
Using template: /templates/blog/post.html
Fetching from cache: perch_blog_author_for_post60127589d3fc2d9faf5ca5f55a127f70
Cache file not found: perch_blog_author_for_post60127589d3fc2d9faf5ca5f55a127f70
[1] SELECT * FROM swt_blog_authors WHERE authorID='19' LIMIT 1
[1] SELECT pageID, pageParentID, pageDepth, pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/what-we-do' OR pageSortPath='/what-we-do' LIMIT 1
[1] SELECT pageID, pageParentID, pageDepth, pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageTreePosition='000-002' LIMIT 1
[7] SELECT * FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageNew=0 AND pageHidden=0 AND pageTreePosition LIKE '000-002%' AND pageDepth >=1 AND pageDepth<=2 ORDER BY pageTreePosition ASC
[1] SELECT pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/news/post' LIMIT 1
[2] SELECT pageID FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageTreePosition IN ('000-006-001', '000-006', '000') ORDER BY pageTreePosition DESC
[6] Using template: /templates/navigation/footer-nav.html
[1] SELECT pageID, pageParentID, pageDepth, pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/make-a-difference' OR pageSortPath='/make-a-difference' LIMIT 1
[1] SELECT pageID, pageParentID, pageDepth, pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageTreePosition='000-005' LIMIT 1
[38] SELECT * FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageNew=0 AND pageHidden=0 AND pageTreePosition LIKE '000-005%' ORDER BY pageTreePosition ASC
[1] SELECT pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/news/post' LIMIT 1
[2] SELECT pageID FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageTreePosition IN ('000-006-001', '000-006', '000') ORDER BY pageTreePosition DESC
[9] Using template: /templates/navigation/footer-nav.html
[1] SELECT pageID, pageParentID, pageDepth, pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/visit' OR pageSortPath='/visit' LIMIT 1
[1] SELECT pageID, pageParentID, pageDepth, pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageTreePosition='000-004' LIMIT 1
[30] SELECT * FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageNew=0 AND pageHidden=0 AND pageTreePosition LIKE '000-004%' AND pageDepth >=1 AND pageDepth<=2 ORDER BY pageTreePosition ASC
[1] SELECT pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/news/post' LIMIT 1
[2] SELECT pageID FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageTreePosition IN ('000-006-001', '000-006', '000') ORDER BY pageTreePosition DESC
[29] Using template: /templates/navigation/footer-nav.html
[1] SELECT pageID, pageParentID, pageDepth, pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/make-a-difference' OR pageSortPath='/make-a-difference' LIMIT 1
[1] SELECT pageID, pageParentID, pageDepth, pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageTreePosition='000-005' LIMIT 1
[10] SELECT * FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageNew=0 AND pageHidden=0 AND pageTreePosition LIKE '000-005%' AND pageDepth >=1 AND pageDepth<=2 ORDER BY pageTreePosition ASC
[1] SELECT pageTreePosition FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pagePath='/news/post' LIMIT 1
[2] SELECT pageID FROM swt_pages_staging WHERE pageTreePosition IN ('000-006-001', '000-006', '000') ORDER BY pageTreePosition DESC
[9] Using template: /templates/navigation/footer-nav.html
Request time: 0.236
Process time: 0.2359
Memory: 1.6601