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The unpleasant smell that the flower omits is only present for a few hours after the flower opens. If the flower is pollinated (normally by flies if the plant is outside) it will take 1 year for the plant to mature its seeds. The seed stalk is very pretty with the seeds changing colors from green to red. During this time the tuber will not produce a leaf.
The young leaves, stems, and corms are as vegetables or turned into desserts. They are thoroughly cooked to destroy the stinging oxalate crystals.
The actual fruit is the nut, the apple is a swollen stem. Cashew apple is eaten fresh or stewed. Has a sweet-astringent taste. Nut itself is caustic until roasted. Must be roasted outdoors because fumes are irritating. Very fast growing under favorable conditions, it may fruit in container, within 2 years from seed. Tolerates very poor soil and drought, as well as salty wind.
Growing from a horizontal tuber that can measure up to 80 cm long by 20 cm across, the plant produces one huge, much-divided leaf with a stout prickly stem.
Arisaema speciosum has medium-sized chocolate-maroon coloured spathes with white stripes arranged in a vertical fan-shape. The tip of the spathe hood is elongated and often droops down and together with the long attenuated spadix appendage gives this Arisaema one of its common names, the Double Whip Cobra Lily. Before the spathe fully opens it often resembles the beaked silhouette of a long-beaked bird.
The leaves are dramatically exotic and have three large segments that are heavily rugose underneath and margined with red.