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Friar’s Cowl – Arisarum vulgare – Il-Garni tal-pipa

Friar’s Cowl – Arisarum vulgare – Il-Garni tal-pipa

Friar’s cowl is a very common plant one can find during a walk at Chadwick Lakes, found mainly in partial shaded and cool places with moist soil. During the summer months the plant aestivates in its underground elongated or swollen stem, which on the approach of autumn will once again grow leaves and flowers. These can be seen in flower from November to July, growing to a height of 10 to 30 cm.

The leaves grow on a single smooth 12 to 15 cm stalk, growing directly from the underground stem. The dark-green leaf is in the shape of an arrowhead but with the part attached to the stalk having lobes pointing outwards at right angles, and a leaf blade 4 to 10 cm wide and 8 to 18 cm long.

The flowers, rise on a single smooth stalk from the underground stem. These can have purple marked spots or longitudinal streaks, turning gradually to green at the base. However, not all flowers can have these brown markings, but they can have green patterns instead.

The flower has the shape of a 12 cm long tube, with an upper curved hood-shaped opening, from which a curved greenish club like spike protrudes. The upper part of the flower is purple-brown, with eventual longitudinal stripes, speckles and spots at its base. This embraces the true flowers inside, which can be either male flowers or female flowers, both in the same flower.

The fruit of the Friar’s cowl is a cylindrical greenish 1 cm berry, which sometimes can be reddish. Each berry can house usually 4 seeds.

The plant is poisonous if not well processed.

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