Many hardy aroid lovers have grown the popular Sauromatum venosum–a plant that has been cultivated for hundreds of years. Few people, however, have tried another lesser-known species, that we think is an exceptional garden plant, Sauromatum horsfieldii.
We’d grown a couple of clones of this species for years, and found it to be a BIO plant (of botanical interest only). In other words, it was cute, but not exactly catalog worthy. Then we tried one of Alan Galloway’s collections from Thailand’s Loei Province, and our entire opinion of the plant changed.
This exceptional lance-leaf clone, which we named Sauromatum horsfieldii ‘Lancelot’, is truly exceptional both in vigor, showiness, and winter hardiness. This year, it sailed through 11F with no problem. Below are photos of our 1′ tall x 1′ wide clumps in full flower in mid-June, shortly after they emerge. We have found it to thrive in light shade as well as with a couple of hours of morning sun.
Last week, I was innocently feeling up the spadix on our flowering Sauromatum, when I noticed it was incredibly hot…not in the biblical sense, you understand. We grabbed our new Covid thermometer to take its temperature, and with an ambient outdoor temperature of 61 degrees F, our Sauromatum spadix registered 96.3 F….that’s a 35 degree F fever!
In the plant world, this “fever” is known as thermogenesis. Pretend you’re a plant, and a pretty homely one at that. You’re ready for the big once-a-year moment and are probably wondering if you’ll get lucky in the short time window that your sexual parts will be functional. You also know you were born with an aphrodisiac to help you get laid, but it’s only good if you can get the word out. That’s where thermogenesis comes in handy. Many members of the aroid family (think anthurium and philodendron) were born with the ability to crank up the temperature in their sexual regions to disperse the fragrance of their aphrodisiac. In the case of aroids, that would be the smell of rotting flesh. Once our sauromatum got the heat going, there was a steady stream of incoming flies looking to get laid. Actually, they were looking for food and got tricked into satisfying the desires of our horny sauromatum. Isn’t nature amazing!