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Arum maculatum - L.

Common Name Cuckoo Pint
Family Araceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The plant contains calcium oxylate crystals. These cause an extremely unpleasant sensation similar to needles being stuck into the mouth and tongue if they are eaten, but they are easily neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water[65].
Habitats Hedgerows, woodlands, copses etc, especially on base-rich substrata[9, 17].
Range Most of Europe, south and east of Sweden, including Britain, south to N. Africa.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Arum maculatum Cuckoo Pint


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Arum maculatum Cuckoo Pint
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Arum maculatum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Hedgerow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Tuber - cooked and used as a vegetable[2, 177]. A mild flavour, the root contains about 25% starch[74]. A farina can be extracted from the root[2]. Roots can be harvested at any time of the year, though they are best when the plant is dormant[K]. At one time, the tubers of this plant were commonly harvested and used for food, but they are very rarely used nowadays[268, K]. The root must be thoroughly dried or cooked before being eaten, see the notes above on toxicity. Leaves - must be well cooked[177]. Available from late winter. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Homeopathy;  Purgative;  Vermifuge.

Cuckoo pint has been little used in herbal medicine and is generally not recommended for internal use[268]. The shape of the flowering spadix has a distinct sexual symbolism and the plant did have a reputation as an aphrodisiac, though there is no evidence to support this[268]. The root is diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, strongly purgative and vermifuge[4, 9, 19, 21]. It should be harvested in the autumn or before the leaves are produced in the spring[4]. It can be stored fresh in a cellar in sand for up to a year or can be dried for later use[4]. The plant should be used with caution[9], see notes above on toxicity. The bruised fresh plant has been applied externally in the treatment of rheumatic pain[268]. A liquid from the boiled bark (of the stem?[K]) has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea[213]. A homeopathic remedy is prepared from the root and leaves[4]. It has been used in the treatment of sore throats[4, 268].

Other Uses

Starch.

Starch from the root has been used as a laundry starch for stiffening clothes[4, 66, 100]. Its use is said to be very harsh on the skin, producing sores and blisters on the hands of the laundresses who have to use it[66, 100], though another report says that the powdered root makes a good and innocent cosmetic that can be used to remove freckles[4].

Cultivation details

Prefers a humus rich soil and abundant water in the growing season[1, 13]. Prefers a shady damp calcareous soil[13, 31]. Succeeds in sun or shade[90]. Plants are very shade tolerant[17] and grow well in woodland conditions[1]. The inflorescence has the remarkable ability to heat itself above the ambient air temperature to such a degree that it is quite noticeable to the touch[4]. Temperature rises of 11°c have been recorded[245]. At the same time, the flowers emit a foul and urinous smell in order to attract midges for pollination[245]. The smell disappears once the flower has been pollinated[245]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].

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Propagation

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse or cold frame as soon as it is ripe[134]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 6 months at 15°c[134]. Stored seed should be sown in the spring in a greenhouse and can be slow to germinate, sometimes taking a year or more. A period of cold stratification might help to speed up the process. Sow the seed thinly, and allow the seedlings to grow on without disturbance for their first year, giving occasional liquid feeds to ensure that they do not become mineral deficient. When the plants are dormant in the autumn, divide up the small corms, planting 2 - 3 in each pot, and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for a further year, planting out when dormant in the autumn. Division of the corms in summer after flowering[200]. Larger corms can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up the smaller corms and grow them on for a year in a cold frame before planting them out.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Acer saccharumSugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple42
Acer saccharum grandidentatumBig-Tooth Maple, Canyon Maple, Rocky Mountain Sugar Maple40
Acer saccharum nigrumBlack Maple41
Amorphophallus paeoniifoliusElephant Yam, Whitespot giant arum22
Amorphophallus rivieriDevil's Tongue, Umbrella Arum, Leopard Palm, Snake Palm22
Arisarum vulgareFriar's Cowl20
Arum dioscoridis 21
Arum italicumItalian lords and ladies, Italian Arum20
Asarum arifolium 01
Asarum blumei 01
Asarum canadenseSnake Root, Canadian wildginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Wild Ginger33
Asarum caudatumWild Ginger, British Columbia wildginger32
Asarum dilatatum 20
Asarum europaeumAsarabacca, European Wild Ginger02
Asarum forbesiiDu Heng01
Asarum heterotropoides 02
Asarum maximum 01
Asarum nipponicum 10
Asarum reflexum 20
Asarum shuttleworthiiAsarabacca, Mottled Wild Ginger20
Asarum sieboldiiWild Ginger02
Asarum takaoi 10
Calla palustrisWater Arum22
Carum carviCaraway43
Hedysarum alpinumAlpine Sweetvetch30
Hedysarum arcticum 20
Hedysarum borealeSweet Vetch, Utah sweetvetch, Northern sweetvetch40
Hedysarum boreale mackenziiLiquorice Root40
Hedysarum hedysaroidesAlpine French Honeysuckle30
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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

17200

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Readers comment

Rob from Gippsland, Victoria, Australia   Mon Aug 28 2006

I found this very interesting. The plant has become a highly invasive weed in our garden. I have tried several control measures, including powerful herbicides, but the plant has not responded and is continuing to spread.

   Tue Aug 29 2006

I thought it was highly poisonous?

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