Arisaema anomalum Hemsl. (Araceae)
by Mrs. Norzielawati Bt. Salleh & Zulhazman Hamzah
Arisaema anomalum Hemsl. (Araceae)
by Mrs. Norzielawati Bt. Salleh & Zulhazman Hamzah

Arisaema anomalum is an endemic species in Peninsular Malaysia. It is popularly known as ‘Cobra Lily’ because the spathe looks like the inflated hood of a cobra.

The uniqueness and beauty of the inflorescence and leaves of this plant are the major factors in its attraction as an ornamental plant for gardeners. It is already cultivated and sold as an outdoor and indoor plant in America and several Asian countries.

The trifoliolate leaves readily distinguish Arisaema from the other genera in the aroid family. There are seven species recorded from Peninsular Malaysia, of which two are endemic. Arisaema anomalum grows in hill to upper hill dipterocarp forest from Kedah to Selangor at altitudes between 350 m and 1700 m. It grows in shady, humus-rich and damp areas especially under big trees or on slopes.

The Arisaema genus is unique in that the sex of the plant depends on the robustness of the plant. Small or weak plants produce staminate inflorescences (male flowers) while robust plants produce pistillate inflorescences (female flowers) (Gusman and Gusman, 2006). The leaf blade is variegated being glossy green with white longitudinal blotches. The spathe tube is cylindrical to slightly funnel-shaped and is white with green veins and rim. The spadix-appendage is dark purple. The special characters of A. anomalum that distinguish it from other Arisaema species include its rhizomatous habit, variegated leaflets, longer inflorescence stalk and green spathe.


  1. Gusman, G. & Gusman, L. (2006). The Genus Arisaema: A Monograph for Botanists and Nature Lovers. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G., Liechtenstein. pp. 474.
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