Friday, July 06, 2012

Wild Calla Lily in the Bog

The northern boreal forest has some pretty plants, including those that grow in the bountiful bogs in northern Saskatchewan.  I suppose the bountiful bogs also account for the plentiful mosquitoes, which may be why I have five new mosquito bites to go along with these photos.  These photos show the Wild Calla Lily, or Bog Arum.   

Wild Calla Lily (Calla palustris)

These plants just happened to be growing in some standing water that surrounds the Nut Point campground's playground.  Yes, a playground in a bog!  DEET is required here.  Following the playground experience, I went to two local stores looking for the new OFF clip-on product (as seen on TV).  It's website says it uses AAA batteries and lasts for 11 hours.  One store had sold out and was waiting impatiently for the supply truck and the other store hadn't heard of them yet.  Apparently, they're quite popular.  I certainly will be buying the first ones I find.  I would like to see this in a bulk northern family pack.  Reviews will follow!

Wild Calla Lily (Calla palustris), part of the Arum family
Interestingly, the wild calla lily is pollinated by snails.  I thought pollination by bats was unique, but this is even cooler!  This plant is considered poisonous because its oxalic acid content.  Oxalic acid is the same agent that would cause grief to our kidneys should we eat rhubarb leaves.  However, the rhizome (root) is edible after some processing.  It apparently has been used traditionally as a medicine.  I've never met anyone up here who knows much about traditional uses of the wild plants aside from rat root, but the plant has a circumpolar distribution, so the northern Europeans may also have some experience with its use.
Wild Calla Lily (Calla palustris), Nut Point Campground
Later in the year, the green spadix at the center of the "flower" will transform into a cluster of red berries (also inedible).  The beautiful flowers we commonly call Calla lilies and find in florists boutqets are not actually Callas at all, and belong to the genus Zantedeschia.  I see the lovely purple and pink varieties of these in the mail order catalogs and have considered getting one, though I fear that I would not be able to keep up with their water requirements.   

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