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Now in this completely updated second edition, we learn of discoveries made in the last decade as the family has grown from about 2500 species to nearer 3200. The latest taxonomic and nomenclatural revisions are ...
Now in this completely updated second edition, we learn of discoveries made in the last decade as the family has grown from about 2500 species to nearer 3200. The latest taxonomic and nomenclatural revisions are noted in the checklist of genera, and all the original drawings are included plus twice as many color photos. A new guide to the cultivation of ornamental aroids completes this well-rounded introduction to a remarkable family.
The inflorescences are on pale stalks about 6 in. tall and are held slightly inclined towards the ground. The lower portion of the spathe forms a tube 2-3 in. long with a slightly velvety brown hood and a white base. The only opening is a small hole beneath the point where the hood marrows into the elongated curve of the tail. To appreciate this inflorescence fully, it is necessary to cut away one side. Inside is the crooked spadix with a few female flowers at the base and a larger number of male flowers above. Then, fitting exactly into the hood of the spathe, is the whites spongy appendix, a perfect replica of the underside of a fungus. Its faint mushroomy scent attracts female fungus gnats. Once inside the inflorescence the insects are stimulated to lay their eggs by the appearance and humidity of the imitation fungus. The eggs are deposited in the cavities of the spongy tissies, and the larvae subsequently hatch, only to starve on the fake food. After egg-laying, the gnats enter the spathe chamber by either falling into it or being guided downwards by the bright refractive base. As they struggle to escape they drop any pollen they may be carrying from a previously visited inflorescence and pick up a new load before they leave.
The flowering of this cunning little aroid is timed to coincide with the first springtime generation of gnats. The insects are compelled to breed when few real fungi can be found, so that their desperate search for somewhere to lay their eggs they are readily taken in by this aroid's enticing guise. Such behaviour has earned the inflorescences the description of "parasites on the ecosystem" (Vogel 1973). This strange case of mimicry was first described in 1891 by an Italian botanist who referred to Arisum proboscideum as "the most peculiar herb in Europe" (Arcangeli 1891).
|Foreword to the Second Edition||9|
|Foreword to the First Edition||11|
|1||Variations on a Theme: What are aroids and where do they grow?||29|
|2||Of Tails and Traps and the Underworld: Mechanisms of reproduction||53|
|3||Woodlanders: Species of temperate woodland and higher altitudes of the tropics and subtropics||75|
|4||Aquatics and Amphibians: Species of wetlands and water||97|
|5||A Place in the Sun: Species of arid and seasonally dry regions||129|
|6||In the Shadows: Species of the tropical rainforest floor||155|
|7||Towards the Light: Tropical climbers and epiphytes||187|
|8||The Titans: Giant tuberous species of the tropics||223|
|9||An Acquired Taste: Aroids as food plants||247|
|10||Acids and Crystals: The chemistry and toxicity of aroids||275|
|Aroids in Cultivation||301|
|Checklist of Aroid Genera||339|