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Commonly known as Cuckoo pint
Genus of 26 species of mainly spring-flowering tuberous perennials. They are found in a range of partially shaded habitats in southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia to the western Himalayas.
The leaves may be spear-, arrow- or heart-shaped and are often attractively marked. The outer spathes (modified leaves) enclose a thin spadix of tiny flowers which are sweetly or unpleasantly scented and are followed by spikes of orange or red berries.
The UK has two natives, A. maculatum, the common and well-known Lords-and-Ladies or Cuckoo-pint with wrinkled and spotted leaves and A. italicum, the Large cuckoo-pint whose natural habitat is confined to the south coast and Channel Islands. The latter has smooth, unspotted leaves and flowers later.
The starchy roots were used to stiffen the ruffs, so prevalent in the Elizabethan era.