(Orontium aquaticum) Arum family
FlowersBright yellow, minute, perfect, crowded on a spadix (club) 1 to 2 in. long; the scape, 6 in. to 2 ft. tall, flattened just below it; the club much thickened in fruit. Leaves : All from root, petioled, oblong-elliptic, dull green above, pale underneath, 5 to 12 in. long, floating or erect. Preferred HabitatShallow ponds, standing water, swamps.
DistributionNew England to the Gulf States, mostly near the coast.
A first cousin of cruel Jack-in-the-pulpit, the skunk cabbage, and the water-arum (see page 155), a poor relation also of the calla lily, the golden club seems to be denied part of its tribal inheritancethe spathe, corresponding to the pulpit in which Jack preaches, or to the lily’s showy white skirt. In the tropics, where the lily grows, where insect life teems in myriads and myriads, and competition among the flowers for their visits is infinitely more keen than here, she has greater need to flaunt showy clothes to attract benefactors than her northern relatives. But the golden club, which looks something like a calla stripped of her lovely white robe, has not lacked protection for its little buds from the cold spring winds while any was needed. By the time we notice the plant in bloom, however, its bract-like spathe has usually fallen away, as if conscious that the pretty mosaic club of golden florets, so attractive in itself, was quite able to draw all the visitors needed without further help. Merely by crawling over the clubs, flies and midges cross-fertilize them.