Arisaema flavum

Section Dochafa.

Arisaema flavum has a very wide distribution, extending from mountainous ares of Eithiopia in Eastern Africa, through Yemen and Oman on the Arabian peninsular, Eastwards into the mountains of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India and China, and finally all the way to Western Nepal. With such a wide range it is not surprising that different forms exist throughout this distribution. 

As is usually the case, we tend to see only a tiny snapshot of the variabilty within the species just by looking at cultivated specimens. It has become apparent that wild populations can differ substantially in size and form. For example, spathe colour can vary from yellow through to reddish brown.

Arisaema flavum makes what is probably the smallest inflorescence of all the Arisaema – short and squat and sometimes reminding me of a small owl! Typically, the spathe tube is just 3-4cm in height. The form most frequently found in cultivation is cream or pale green at the base and blending into a lovely yellow towards the top of the spathe, which extends over the mouth with a short yellow limb. The inside is usually flushed brown and contains a short and stocky spadix. 

The inflorescence emerges just after the leaves unfold. For a long time I had considered this to be unique amongst Arisaema in that it was always bisexual and self fertile – a single plant always went on to produce seed. However, G.Gusman reports in his monograph that some wild populations do in fact have male or bisexual spadices that can change in a reversable way, more in keeping with other members of the genus. 

Young plants will produce a single leaf, whereas larger ones will make two or three leaves. Each has a well developed rachis and up to 11 leaflets, although 7 leaflets are more common. The central leaflet is always the largest, decreasing in size outwards.

Easily grown in pots or in the ground in a well drained soil. Light shade for some of the day seems ideal, although Arisaema flavum seems to take much more sun than many other species. 

A distinct variety of Arisaema flavum occurs in the Eastern Himalaya (Bhutan, Western Sichuan, Western Yunnan and Xizang in China). This is known as Arisaema flavum tibeticum.



The tuber is subglobose. It appears to be flowering sized at a surprisingly small size of just 2cm in diameter but can reach up to 8cm. Sessile offsets are produced from mature tubers, these tend to slough off with the remains of the old tuber at the end of the growing season.

Seeds and germination:

Seeds can be stored dry with no significant loss of viability.

Very easy to germinate, and flowering can often be acheived in just the second year from seed.

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