The sweet smell of success

Plants need to get their flowers pollinated to reproduce. Some do it with bright displays while others use scent to attract pollinators. To our noses, there are good scents and bad scents, but to a flower, it’s the right scent to attact the right insect to add reproduction. Many of the aroids need flies and smell of rotting meat (or worse) – one family of plants in Malaysia relies on dung beetles so I think this is defintely not one of the plants to include in your garden or conservatory!

But not all aroids have an unpleasant pong. The scent of Arum creticum is sweetly pleasant, and has been likened to that of a rose, lemon, or orangeade. Being somewhat challenged on the olfactory front, I’ll leave you to determine which, but I can detect a slight something in the air if I push my nose in close just now

Arum creticum FCC form - 2019 - Copy

As you would expect, Arum creticum is native to the mountains of Crete, also Greece and southwestern Turkey, where it blooms in April to May. It has unmarked, glossy, dark green leaves and produces spathes in various hues of white or pale yellow. The best form, previously known as FCC Form  but now sold as the variety ‘Karpathos’, has “superb primrose yellow spathes with a butter-yellow spadix”. Starting into growth in autumn, it goes dormant in summer, leaving a bit of a gap if you weren’t expecting it, but a strategically placed pot or two would fill the hole. Give it a sunny position in fertile, well-drained soil and it should be able to cope with just about anything the British weather can throw at it. Allow for a height of three feet and a similar spread eventually, plus the odd seedling to be potted up and given to admiring friends.



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