Wednesday, May 25, 2011

An encounter with a circumcised Japanese Jack-in-the-Pulpit

The circumcised Japanese Jack-in-the-Pulpit of the Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA.

The tease in the title has to do with the Jacks in or out of the pulpit now engaged in a heated debate against the Reproductive Health (RH) bill pending in the Philippine Congress. Likewise, the ban on circumcision that will be put to a vote in the coming November elections in California.

Entry to the Bridge of Flowers.

Our encounter however is with a flowering plant in the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts - the perennial Arisaema sikokianum popularly known as the Japanese Dragon Arum or the circumcised Jack-in-the-Pulpit.  The picture tells why it has that male nomenclature.

We wonder how Filipinos would describe this Jack-in-the-pulpit in Padre Damaso terms. But here's the flora in botanical terms:

"Arisaema sikokianum is considered the most stunningly beautiful member of the genus Arisaema ... From an underground tuber in early spring ... the dark pitcher and two five-lobed leaves emerge on a 1' tall fleshy petiole (stalk). As the pitcher opens, it reveals a swollen, pure white protruding sex organ (spadix), which provides a dramatic contrast to the purple of the pitcher (spathe). Since Arisaema sikokianum doesn't offset or engage in sexual self satisfaction, more than one [are needed] to start a family..."

The Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Mass., is said to be "the only one of its kind in the world."  This was built in 1908 and originally designed to carry trolley tracks across the Deerfield River between Shelburne and Buckland, which today are still small bucolic towns where the iconic McDo logo is nowhere to be found in their landscape.

The trolley line was abandoned in 1928.  The couple Mr and Mrs Walter Burnham initiated a concerted fund raising effort to convert the abandoned bridge "into a pathway adorned with decorative vines, shrubs, and a variety of flowers."

Through the years, the beauty of the Bridge of Flowers has been maintained by many volunteers who regularly assist the paid gardener.

Over 500 different varieties of flowers and plants are tended there by the gardeners to insure continuous blooming from early spring until late in the fall.  There are inconspicuous name tags beside them for those who are interested to order them from plant stores once they get home.

The Bridge is open free.  We noted that visitors from other countries like us have come to enjoy the palette of colors of the flowers of the many plants there.  

Camera bugs like us tend to spend more time with the flowers. Photo-ops galore!  And for this alone we dropped a token of gratitude in the donation box to help maintain the Bridge for others to enjoy through the coming years.

N.B. It goes without saying that we need the assistance of botanists who read this post to identify the nameless plants/flowers in the pictures.

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