The strangely attractive Symplocarpus renifolius is almost unheard of by European gardeners. Native to Asia, though more specifically to Korea, Manchuria, Russia and Japan, Symplocarpus renifolius is a species of flowering plants from the family Araceae. Also known as the arum family, it is a group of related monocotyledonous flowering plants in which flowers are borne on a type of inflorescence called a spadix.
Symplocarpus species grow from a rhizome and their leaves release a foul odour when crushed.
It grows in damp places, mainly in the open, although it is sometimes found under trees. It is often seen growing alongside stream but never submerged unless the surrounding ground is prone to flooding .
The flower is actually a modified leaf known as a spathe and appears in the early spring. Unlike most other flowering plants Symplocarpus renifolius are pollinated by flies. Using a sophisticated chemical reaction the spadix is able to produce heat which helps to release their rather pungent fragrance further afield.
All parts of the plant are poisonous due to the presence of calcium oxalate. If accidentally consumed it will make the mouth and digestive tract feel as though it is being punctures by hundreds of tiny needles.
Fresh, un-cleaned seed can be collected in the spring and sown into a compost a mix of half coarse sand and half milled sphagnum moss (not peat). Press the seeds firmly into the surface and water just the one time from the bottom. It is prudent to add water soluble fungicide in the water as a precaution but is not absolutely necessary. Leave outside exposed to the cold autumn and winter weather and the seeds will germinate in the spring.
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