Later in the season, the cuckoopint makes shining green and then red fruits when ripe.
Dangerous ones especially for young children drawn by the colour and expecting a sweet taste…
Never let them eat it!
Here is a link to the French emergency poisons units:
Scientific name: Arum maculatum. Comes from the name the ancient Greeks used to call it: Arôn. Maculatum means spotted.
English: Lords-and-ladies, or cuckoopint
French: Gouet or Pied-de-veau… and many local names. Some of them full of imagery: “Vit de prêtre”, “Membre d’évêque”, “Vit de chien” (priest’s, bishop’s or dog’s “member”) but also “Religieuse” (nun) or “Manteau de Sainte-Marie” (Virgin Mary’s coat). Strange mixture of sex and religion… as usual in France!
German: Gefleckter aronstab.
Dutch: Gevlekte Aronskelk.
Belongs to the family of the ARACEAE. Usually lives in forests.
A strange plant, mysterious and looking unhealthy…
A treacherous trap for flies. Not a carnivorous one: insects finally come out safe if they don’t die of exhaustion… So, why the hell trapping them if not for eating?
Because all the energy and “inventiveness” of species is used for reproduction.
Sex rules the world, that’s a well known principle… And for that purpose, nature invents surprising things, like the lords-and-ladies’ architecture.
The cuckoopint is made of a large green cornet often lined with red, called spathe.
At its base, a sudden narrowing and then a kind of spheric receptacle out of which stands a deep purple cylinder. Like a finger. The “finger” is called spadix. Smelling tainted meat. Unpleasant for humans but flies do love it.
But the cuckoopint is not that bad and can show gratitude: after long minutes, the gate finally opens, the insect can fly away… and because a fly is not especially clever but always thirsty, it directly goes to the closest bar: another lords-and-ladies where it’s immediately trapped again…
Moving again around the spheric receptacle… The pollen of the first cuckoopint covers the female flowers of the second one: successful fertilization…!
Actually, a fly can’t resist…
It comes and lands on the stinking spadix, sucks it. The most it goes down, the strongest the taste…
The insect finally reaches the narrowing at the spadix bottom, meets a fence of hair, forces it to enter the spheric receptacle, where stands the cluster of tiny male (up, dark brown) and female (bottom, yellow) flowers. No petals.
Fly finds here the stinking nectar it’s looking for, drinks and then tries to get out... Like a drunk trying to find his way out of a bar… Wobbly. Quite hard, especially when the door (here the hair fence) seems to open in only one way…
The insect moves around and gets covered with the pollen from the male flowers.
I've been there last November and it is a charming little place to stay. They have parking...more
I was originally going to stay on the outskirts of Metz since we were using it as a base to see...more
"Marie-Elise Et Claude Pech, Haudainville", Verdun, 55100, France
Good for: Families