Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arisarum proboscideum – Mouse Tail Arum

Another springtime favorite plant here at Travelmarx headquarters is the Arisarum proboscideum (mouse plant or mouse tail plant). It grows in a well-lit but no sun location on the north side of the house and is increasing each year. The flowers can go unnoticed because they are under the leaves, so you need to stop and get down on the ground to appreciate the them (how the photo above was obtained). Best of all is that there is an Italian connection because this plant is native to Italy!

A. proboscideum is a member of the Araceae (or Arum) family. This family contains members that you often see as houseplants: philodendron, peace lily (spathiphyllum), and anthurium among others. What descriptive information can we extract from the scientific names (binomial nomenclature) for the mouse tail arum? The genus name Arisarum was a name given by the Greek botanist Dioscorides (ca. 40-90) to this plant – not much more to go on. The species name proboscideum comes from the Greek proboskis “elephant’s trunk” referring to the long curved tip of the inflorescence.

Update: 2012-04-28. For more on this plant see Soholm Pottery and Arisarum proboscideum.


  1. These flowers look a lot more like mice diving for cover into the undergrowth when you stoop down and part the leaves to see their little rear ends and tails vanishing from sight. The purple/brown colouring could easily be mistaken for the fine pelts of tiny mice, even to the paler underbellies, and the 'tails spiral and arc very prettily. Next Spring when you have your camera to hand, just gently part the leaves and photograph the burrowing mice from above. The effect is remarkable and enchanting.

  2. Thanks. A good tip for next year. I took these arums for granted this year and hardly paid attention to them because I got so busy. As I look out the window at them now, the original small clump has spread a lot. So there will be quite a few 'burrowing' mice to photograph early next spring.


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