Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Golden Club - Orontium aquaticum

Golden club (aka Neverwet) (Orontium aquaticum) is a perennial wetland plant found nearly statewide in Florida and throughout most of the Southeast Coastalplain from Texas north to New York and Massachusetts.  As its Latin name suggests, it is found in shallow aquatic areas - primarily along slow moving streams and rivers. Its common names are also easy to understand as the flower stalk (a spathe) is a bright golden yellow and its foliage repels water. When water comes in contact with it, it immediately rolls off the surface as it were waxed.
Golden club is a member of the Araceae family and therefore its flower stalk is technically a spathe - like in Jack-in-the-pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum). These are not evergreen plants, but lose their foliage in fall and reemerge again in spring. The large deep-green lanceolate leaves may be 12 inches in length., though some of it may be below the waterline. They arise in a whorl from the main stem and rise well above the waterline. Plants tend to form colonies given enough time.
Flowering occurs in late spring to summer.  Tiny yellow flowers occur along the tip of the flower stalk. These are monoecious, so each is capable of being pollinated. The ripe fruit are tiny berries and the seeds are said to be edible and tasty if slightly roasted. Of course, some caution should always be taken when sampling wild foods. The flowers are pollinated by small bees and, possibly, skipper butterflies.
This is a handsome plant, but very difficult to propagate and to keep in a landscape. It is very rarely offered in the commercial trade and would only be appropriate in the types of settings it naturally occurs in. This is a plant to be admired in the field - especially when encountered in full bloom like the specimens photographed above.

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