Just picture it, miniature serpents rearing up from the woodland floor, with their wing-like leaves spread around them - these are the fantastical blooms of Arisaema, the cobra lily, named after the flaring hood of their flowers which resembles a cobra's mantle.
This really is quite a unique little plant for shady spots and wooded areas under trees, producing the most amazing and striking flowers, some people have commented that they're like miniature triffids!
Correctly called a 'spathe', the flower is a deep maroon-coloured, upturned pitcher, designed to trap insects to aid pollination. Striped with immaculate, sharp pinstripes of white, the whole flower has an exotic-looking air to it - although the corms themselves are not exactly a thing of beauty at planting, belying what will erupt from them.
The shoots emerge from the end of the corms and are a peculiar spotted mix of the maroon and white, before suddenly unfurling like a flag to produce big 3-pointed leaves, and the flower stalk that grows up through them.
When planting, choose a well-drained spot, adding gravel to the planting hole if your soil is heavy or poorly drained and surrounding the bulb with bark chippings. You can also try growing them in pots if you prefer.
Often regarded as borderline hardy in winter, if well-drained and mulched they should survive. A real novelty and great talking point for your garden which very few of your friends will have (or even recognise!).
Supplied as a pair of corms, ready for planting out or potting on, plants reach 50cm (20in) and flower from June to August.
Harmful if eaten/skin & eye irritant.