Saturday, May 02, 2009

Black Calla in Abu Tor

The neighbors trimmed back the overgrowth and we were stunned to find three Solomon's Lilies growing beside the roses in a Jerusalem yard. They are a real curiosity, like some wicked bloom of charred velvet, with the thick stamens pointingin unison towards the traditional valley of Hinom, Gehanna or Hell. Research shows they are native plants.

Various names include
اللوف الفلسطيني, לוף ארצישראלי, Arum palaestinum,

Anybody know more legends?

hortulus says:

This plant is known by various names - Black Calla, Solomon's Lily, Priest's Hood, Palestine Arum. I've been growing this plant for about 40 years - it was one of the first 'oddities' I acquired when my interest in botany first developed. At that time, it was very rare in California and not known at all in the nursery trade. I appreciated that it was marvelously adapted to my local climate (mediterranean), which I ultimately learned made perfect sense as its coastal Israeli, Syrian, Lebanon homeland is classified similarly.

I love when the flowers first open - this I caught on the very first morning. The interior of the spathe (the leaf-like bract surrounding the floral spike or spadix) is very dark and velvety, almost impossibly so. Already flies and other bugs were swarming at it, attracted by the rich smell of something dead (this lasts only the first day), becoming trapped in the interior just below the hairs which you can just see where the spathe wraps together at the base of the flower. The flower changes very quickly, the spathe fading to a dingy, washed out puce (deep royal red), falling back leaving the spadix standing alone.

The lush, deep green leaves are mere history at this point, already shriveling up, abandoning the flower to carry on alone. Eventually, the club-like fruiting spike will remain, carrying it seeds for germination with the autumnal rains.

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