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Biarum marmarisense - plant of the month 0ct 2010

Until recently, this plant was considered to be a subspecies of Biarum davisii, discovered by Peter Davis on Crete almost 70 years ago. Material representing the population discovered later near Mugla in south-western Turkey has now been elevated to specific status. Biarum marmarisense grows on dry, scrubby limestone hillsides and arid pastureland at up to 1700m, flowering in October and November in the wild.

The flower consists of an upright, creamy-pink mottled spathe which sits directly on the ground, the apex of which hangs forward reminiscent of a creature from a John Wyndham novel or latter-day 'hoody'. The reddish-brown spadix stands fairly erect in the spathe tube and, unlike its cousins in the genus, emits a rather pleasant perfume rather than the evil-smelling, manure-like odour associated with much of the Araceae family.

Biarum marmarisense makes a fine pot plant for Autumn AGS shows. Plant the tubers fairly deep and give it a long,hot summer rest to avoid the production of 'pups' - tiny offset tubers -  at the expense of flowers.

Ray Drew