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What is Peltandra?

By L.K. Blackburn
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Peltandra is a genus of flowering plants from North America in the Araceae family, known for their spiked inflorescence, meaning that the flowers all grow from one main stemmed axis. This is called a spadix, and it is usually contained within an overarching leaf, called a spathe. The genus includes three prominent species: Peltandra sagittifolia, Peltandra virginica and Peltandra primaeva .

The root system on the plants is rhizomatous or tuberous, horizontally spread out beneath the plant. The spathe enclosing the inflorescence can be brightly colored and contain small fruit. Collectively, as members of the Araceae family, these plants can be generally referred to in colloquial terms as aroid. Within the Araceae family, peltandra belongs to the Aroideae subfamily and shares its defining trait of spiny pollen that lacks a outer tough wall of spores and grain pollen layers.

One species of plant within the genus is Peltandra virginica, a marsh-dwelling plant that flowers from late spring to mid-summer. It is native to the northeastern and southeastern United States and Canada, and it grows to about 2 feet (0.6 m) high. Within the marsh area, it favors shallow streams and muddy shore areas. It has a slim spathe within its spadix, typical of the plants of this genus. The common name of this species is arrow arum, and it produces green flowers.

Another species of the genus is Peltandra sagittifolia, or white arrow arum. This species is also sometimes known by the name Peltandra alba. It is found in the marshland, native to the eastern portion of the U.S. Like the Peltandra virginica, the leaves are shaped like arrows, but the flowers on Peltandra sagittifolia are white instead of green. As an aquatic plant with a tuberous root system, Peltandra sagittifolia is sometimes used in gardening to stabilize damp and unstable mud slopes.

Peltandra primaeva, another species, is thought to have been extinct since the Eocene epoch, 34 million years ago. Fossil remnants of the plant were found in North Dakota, and it is believed to have been native to North America like the rest of the genus. The fossil was placed in Peltandra as a result of vein structuring that is unique to plants of this genus.

These plants bloom generally in the summer months and need full sun to thrive. As marshland plants, they prefer to grow in standing or running water, with sand or clay soil. The root system on the plants allows a strong enough hold for growth in slow-moving streams. The leaves of the plants are coarse, and they often contain small berries.

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