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arum

Introduction

arum, common name for the Araceae, a plant family mainly composed of species of herbaceous terrestrial and epiphytic plants found in moist to wet habitats of the tropics and subtropics; some are native to temperate zones. The family is characterized by an inflorescence consisting of a single spadix (a fleshy spike bearing small flowers) and a usually showy and flowerlike bract (modified leaf) called a spathe, which surrounds the spadix. The titan arum ( Amorphophallus titanum ) of Sumatra, which also is grown in a number of botanical gardens, has one of the largest inflorescences of any plant, the spadix reaching a height of 10–15 ft (3–4.6 m) above the ground.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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