The Enchanting Arum: Unveiling the Mystery of Fly-Catchers in Your Garden

The world of plants is filled with captivating adaptations, and the Arum flower stands out as a prime example. Unlike their vibrant, sweet-smelling cousins, Arums have evolved a rather unorthodox strategy for attracting pollinators – they deploy the power of foul odor and trickery to enlist the help of flies! This article dives deep into the fascinating world of fly-catching Arums, guiding you through the secrets of their unique pollination process and providing valuable tips to cultivate thriving Arum plants in your garden.

Understanding the Arum’s Fly-Trapping Trick

The Arum’s fly-trapping prowess lies in its unique flower structure. Unlike typical flowers with colorful petals, Arums possess a modified leaf called a spathe, which often takes on a trumpet or hood-like shape. This spathe is adorned with vibrant colors, often red, purple, or white, acting as a visual lure for unsuspecting flies. However, the Arum’s true weapon lies not in its beauty, but in its stench. Tucked deep within the spathe is the spadix, the flower’s reproductive organ, which emits a pungent odor reminiscent of rotting flesh or feces.

The Power of Putrid Perfume

This foul odor, scientifically termed “carrion odor,” is produced by specialized glands on the spadix. The odor is particularly attractive to flies, especially carrion flies and blowflies, which are naturally drawn to decaying organic matter for laying their eggs. Unbeknownst to the flies, the Arum has no intention of providing a breeding ground; instead, it utilizes their keen sense of smell for its own reproductive purposes.

Preparing Your Arum for Pollination Success

While the fly-trapping mechanism is fascinating, it’s only one part of the Arum’s pollination puzzle. To ensure your Arum thrives and produces vibrant flowers and fruits, proper care is essential. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Light: Arums prefer dappled sunlight or partial shade. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves and hinder flower production.
  • Temperature: Ideal temperatures for Arums fall between 60-75°F (15-24°C). Protect them from frost and extreme heat.
  • Soil: Arums require well-draining, fertile soil. A mixture of potting soil, perlite, and compost can provide the ideal balance of drainage and moisture retention.
  • Watering: Water your Arum regularly, allowing the top inch of soil to dry slightly between waterings. Avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
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Light and Temperature Preferences

Light and Temperature Requirements for Arum Plants

Light ConditionIdeal Temperature Range (°F)Ideal Temperature Range (°C)
Dappled Sunlight/Partial Shade60-7515-24
Avoid Direct Sunlight

By providing your Arum with the right environment, you’ll be laying the groundwork for a successful fly-trapping performance.

Witnessing the Fly-Trapping Magic Unfold

Now comes the truly captivating part – witnessing the Arum’s fly-trapping magic in action! Here’s how the drama unfolds:

  1. The Visual Lure: The vibrant spathe acts as a beacon, attracting flies searching for a potential breeding ground.
  2. The Olfactory Trap: The pungent odor emitted by the spadix intensifies as the fly ventures closer, further enticing it to enter the spathe.
  3. The Slippery Descent: The inner surface of the spathe is often smooth and waxy, making it difficult for the fly to climb back out once it enters.
  4. A Temporary Prison: The fly becomes trapped within the spathe, brushing against the spadix as it explores its confines.

Pollen Transfer and Escape

But the fly’s imprisonment isn’t permanent. The spadix plays a crucial role in pollen transfer. Tiny pollen grains cover the spadix’s surface, and as the fly brushes against it, these grains become attached to its body. After a period of time, the spathe relaxes its grip, allowing the fly to escape. Unbeknownst to the fly, it now carries a precious cargo – the Arum’s pollen.


Carrying this pollen, the fly becomes an unwitting pollinator. As it ventures out in search of its next potential breeding ground, it may land on another Arum flower. If the flower is female (having a receptive stigma), the pollen will come into contact with the stigma, facilitating fertilization. This, in turn, leads to the development of fruits, which contain the Arum’s seeds.

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The Reward and the Cycle Continues

The Arum’s fly-trapping strategy might seem cruel, but it’s a mutually beneficial adaptation. The flies receive no reward (nectar) for their role, but the Arum gains the crucial service of pollen transfer, ensuring its reproductive success. After the female Arum flower is pollinated, the spathe will often wither away, revealing a cluster of brightly colored berries. These berries contain the Arum’s seeds, which can be dispersed by birds or animals, allowing the Arum to propagate and continue its fascinating life cycle.

Pollination Success and Fruit Development

Stages of Arum Flower Development and Pollination

Spathe unfurlsThe colorful spathe opens, revealing the spadix inside.
Fly attractionThe vibrant colors and foul odor attract flies.
Fly entrapmentFlies enter the spathe and become trapped.
Pollen transferFlies brush against the spadix, picking up pollen.
Fly releaseThe spathe relaxes, allowing the fly to escape.
Potential fertilizationIf the fly visits a female flower, pollen may fertilize the ovule.
Fruit developmentThe pollinated flower develops berries containing seeds.

By understanding the Arum’s fly-trapping mechanism and providing proper care, you can witness this captivating process unfold in your own garden and contribute to the continuation of this unique plant’s life cycle.

Cultivating Arum Success: Tips for Thriving Fly-Catchers

Cultivating Arum Success: Tips for Thriving Fly-Catchers

Having explored the fascinating world of Arum pollination, let’s delve into some practical tips to cultivate thriving fly-catching Arums in your garden:

  • Choosing the Right Arum Variety: There are numerous Arum species available, each with varying flower colors, sizes, and dormancy requirements. Research varieties suited to your climate and desired aesthetic.
  • Potting or Planting: Arums can thrive in pots or planted directly in the ground. When planting outdoors, ensure well-draining soil and choose a location with dappled sunlight.
  • Fertilization: During the growing season, a balanced fertilizer applied monthly can encourage healthy growth and flower production.
  • Monitoring Moisture Levels: Maintaining consistent moisture is key. Water regularly, allowing the top inch of soil to dry before watering again. Avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
  • Dormancy Care: Some Arum species experience a dormant period. During this time, reduce watering and allow the foliage to die back. Once new growth emerges, resume regular watering.
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By following these tips and providing the right environment, you can create the perfect conditions for your Arum to attract its fly pollinators, thrive, and produce vibrant flowers and fruits, adding a touch of captivating intrigue to your garden.

Conclusion: The Allure of the Arum

The Arum plant stands as a testament to the remarkable adaptations found in the natural world. Its unique fly-trapping strategy, a blend of visual lure and olfactory trickery, ensures its reproductive success. By understanding this process and providing proper care, you can cultivate thriving Arums in your garden and witness this captivating display of nature’s ingenuity firsthand.

The Arum’s beauty goes beyond its vibrant flowers. It embodies a story of adaptation, resilience, and the delicate balance within ecosystems. As you nurture your Arum and witness its fly-catching magic unfold, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate web of life that surrounds us.

So, why not invite these fascinating fly-catchers into your garden? With a little knowledge and care, you can cultivate a thriving population of Arums, adding a touch of the unusual and captivating to your own slice of nature.

About The Author


I'm Samantha, a plant enthusiast who has been growing plants for years. I believe that plants can make our lives better, both physically and mentally. I started to share my knowledge about how to grow plants. I want to help others enjoy the beauty and benefits of plants.

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