Arisarum proboscideum…mouse mats!

An unusual plant for April & May

We’re spoilt for choice in the garden now so I decided to look around for plants that are a bit different to the run-of- the-mill spring blooms. Take the Arisarum proboscideum for instance. It’s a great little plant with a long Latin name and a fun common name. Mouse plant. It gets its mousey-moniker because the protective cover over the flower extends to a long tip that looks like a mouse tail. It looks as though a little brown mouse has just dived for cover headfirst into each flower.

A small plant that looks like a mouse

Arisarum proboscideum

Apart from being a conversation starter, these perennial plants are easy to grow. The little rhizomes spread to form a mat (a mouse mat?!) of dark green, heart- shaped glossy leaves, before the flowers appear for April. It will spread happily in shady spots of good, moist soil. I wouldn’t say it’s an invasive plant, but like real mice, it will make itself at home if conditions are perfect, so keep an eye on it.

It grows low to the ground, about 15cm high. It’s a good idea to plant it where you can see it and enjoy the quirkiness. It’s in the Araceae family, so it’s related to the arum lilly. The small white flowers have that similar sort of funnel shape, although they tuck over rather than stand upright. It’s definitely the unusual form ‘mouse tail’ that makes it special.

Arisarum is a woodlander, and fully hardy, so it will survive a tough winter, whether it’s cold or wet or both. You can propagate it from seed, or increase numbers by digging it up and dividing it in the autumn or winter.

i’m very happy to have this plant in the garden and it’s an excellent choice whether you are a novice gardener looking for something that you can’t break, or an experienced gardener wanting to have something unusual growing in the spring.

Happy gardening!

Nick