Arisarum proboscideum            Family: Araceae
(ay-ri-SAR-um  pro-bos-SID-ee-um)

Common name: mouse plant; mouse tail plant
Zone: USDA 7 – 9
Height: 4 – 6 in (10-15 cm)   Spread: 18 in (45 cm)
Aspect: part to full shade
Soil: humus-rich; moist; well-drained
Water: moderate; drought tolerant   

Description: An herbaceous, tuberous-rooted, ground-hugging woodland perennial with glossy green, arrowhead-shaped leaves. Flowers are maroon and white with a unique tail-like tip which can stretch to 6 inches (15 cm). The whole floral effect is of a the back end of a mouse diving underground with its tail waving in the air.

 

Special Notes: Native to Spain and Italy, this plant is related to Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit) which is native to eastern North America. It is winter hardy to USDA Zone 7…Zone 6 if given some protection. This is a spring ephemeral, appearing in early spring and disappearing below ground in the heat of summer.

Flowers are complete… having both male and female sexual organs. Fertilization is accomplished when the flowers attract small fungus gnats which subsequently become trapped within the flower and, in their struggle to escape, they inadvertently spread pollen from the male organs to the female.

Relatively drought tolerant once established. Pest and disease resistant.

 

In our Zone 7a garden: First signs of emergence start in the first two weeks of spring with tiny green spires of furled leaves appearing. Flower stems and buds show up shortly after. Bloom time begins about the second week of April and lasts remarkably well through to about the end of June. As soon as the heat really begins to ramp up, the whole clump disappears until the following spring.

I should mention…my one clump of mouse plant is situated in almost complete shade. Sun only reaches it in late winter and early spring and number of duration days only extends until the surrounding herbaceous perennials appear and leaf out and the chestnut tree leaves reach out to full canopy limit.

 

Great Plant Pick (GPP) 2008

 

Posted on April 2, 2020