Mouse Tails

Heather Haderly

Castle Rock, United States

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I just love this little gem. It will make a lovely thick but short lived matt ( I just moved last year so this hasn’t had time to cover the ground here yet). The down side of the thick matt is that it hides the flowers. You will just see the tips of the tails and have to pull the leaves back to see the ‘mouse’. The little tubers are so tiny and the groundcover so short that it doesn’t seem to be a problem with crowding out other plants. It is a great little plant that my garden will never be complete without.

Arisarum Proboscideum
A woodland aroid native of Italy & Spain, Mouse Plant, or Mouse Tail Plant (Arisarum proboscideum), is a small cousin to Jack-in-the-Pulpit.
It does well in dryish shade, though if the soil entirely dries out at any time in spring, it may go prematurely dormant. Persistant moisture in extremely well-draining soil will suit it best.
Its gorgeous green arrowhead leaves form a low, spreading carpet beginning late in winter. It would be a pretty plant even without flowers. But it is the strange flowers that lend it its name. The long tail on each fat little spathes lends the flowers the appearance of a family of mice, enhanced by the chocolate-maroon coloration of the upper portion & tail. The lower portion of the spathe is white like a deermouse’s belly.
The mice are most numerous in April but may persist to the start of summer. The creeping clump of leaves outlast the flowers by quite some while, but will be dying to the ground by August, sooner if its essential well-drained humousy soil completely dries out. Be sure to mark the location well in order to not accidentally dig them up while they are dormant.
Hardy & easily grown, the main risk is excessive dampness rotting the tubers during autumn/winter dormancy. They do well in either sun or shade, but prefer bright shade. It grows from a tuber that develops rhizomes which develop more tubers & offsets, for a slowly expanding clump, never invasive but may after many years need to be lifted & divided.
The “tail” has a mushroom odor which is known to attract female fungus gnats as mouse tail pollinators. In the process the gnats lay their eggs in the mouse tail. These eggs hatch but the larvae fail to develop, having no actual fungus to eat. ( info by www.paghat.com/mouseplant)

Artwork Comments

  • Larry Trupp
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