|Arum Study, pencil & color|
Last Saturday in our botanical art class we continued learning about how to identify plants, their parts, and how to create field studies of them. In the afternoon, (it was a gorgeous day), we went out on the classroom grounds at McCrillis Gardens to practice. The idea was to do a quick gesture sketch of the entire plant to give an idea of its habit, then fill some of the details, making notes on color. Next, look closely at the flower and analyze it, drawing it so that all its parts can be seen clearly.
I selected this arum species because their curious flowering structure, called a spathe, caught my eye. They were all over the understory, edging other plantings.
Last fall when we were studying leaves in Drawing 102, the vein patterns of the leaves and their curling edges appealed to me, and I did several sketches of these, so the leaves were already familiar, but I had no idea about the particular species of arum. I later searched on-line and found it is called Italian Arum.
To examine the flower, I found another specimen that was a bit more developed than the first one photographed above, and cut apart the papery hood to reveal the curious details inside. The female flowers at the bottom of the shaft appeared to have been fertilized and were developing into seeds. It seemed likely that the middle bump of small grains were the male flowers, but what about the ring with long hairs above it? That was a bit of a mystery, so later I went on-line to research.
According to Wikipedia, the upper ring of hairs functions as a trap for insects. The pollinators are beetles or other crawling insects which are attracted to the spadix (the club-shaped organ) by its odor of decay and temperature several degrees warmer than the ambient. The insects get dusted with pollen and when they escape they take the pollen to another spadix, ensuring cross-pollination. The purplish color at the bottom of the spathe has the tinge of carrion, another good indicator about the kind of insect pollinators.
At the bottom left of my sketch is the further developed fruit of the Arum, again found on another specimen nearby. Here the spadix has almost rotted away as the stem grows into a pineapple-like fruit. The seeds will turn red when ripe, much like the seeds of Jack-in-the-pulpit.
We were instructed to collect parts of the flower and seeds and preserve them by sealing them under transparent packing tape. We are to include these with our finished drawing. In my case these specimens were so bulky that I was only able to put them under tape by pasting them onto a piece of paper. Unfortunately, this did not seal them completely and my specimens have already lost their color. I had included some color notes with color pencils on my sketch. That may have to do unless I can collect some new specimens and seal them better. I may yet go back to McCrillis to do just that.
It's all so fascinating!