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The images in the Arum Gallery are from my book 'Wild Arum'; a celebration in pictures and words of this remarkable and unusual plant.

Known also as Cuckoo Flower, Angels and Devils and Stallions and Mares amongst a host of other local names, Arum Maculatum (to give it its Latin name), is a common inhabitant of hedgerows, roadsides and shaded woodlands across most of the UK. The plant has always stirred our imaginations and it easy to see why. The shape of its flowering parts carries an unmistakable sexual suggestiveness and it has been universally believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac.

Reflecting this bawdy sexuality as well as the roles that the plant has played over the centuries in medicine, food and fashion, it has inspired over 100 common names in English alone; surely more than any other British plant.

Carvings of it have been found on ancient Egyptian walls dating back almost 2000 years. It was mentioned by Theophrastus, student of Aristotle, almost 200 years before the Birth of Christ. It featured in the first ever encyclopaedia; as written by Pliny the Elder in AD77. It was believed to resuscitate bears from hibernation and to protect humans from snake bite. Releasing an odour similar to rotting meat, it traps flies in its bulbous leaf bract to aid pollination. It can raise its temperature to an astonishing 14 ĚŠ Celcius above the surrounding environment to the extent that the warmth is easily discernible to the touch. Its pollen causes the flower heads to glow at night giving it the name of fairy lamp in some areas. It has been used as a food, a medicine, an essential ingredient to Elizabethan high fashion, a tool to get rid of unwelcome guests and a symbol of sexual intercourse in artistic representations.

It is a plant which has fired our imaginations down the centuries and which is still a potent symbol of the wild and mysterious side of nature.

The Arum Book writing project now has its own page at wildarum.co.uk which will showcase (if that is the right word) excerpts from the book as it is written, over the coming year. Progress will be uncertain, spasdmodic and random to be sure. Sometimes perhaps only paragraphs. Sometimes possibly whole chapters. Who knows. We shall see. Its going to be an interesting journey.