Arisaema griffithii - watercolour on Fabriano 5
Arisaema griffithii watercolour on Fabriano 5 - detail
Arisaema griffithii watercolour on Fabriano 5 - detail
Arisaema griffithii watercolour on Fabriano 5 - detail
Arisaema griffithii watercolour on Fabriano 5 - detail

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Arisaema griffithii

Watercolour on Fabriano 5, framed in Oak

45cm x 32cm, framed to 70cm x 50cm

SOLD – this painting is now part of the Hugo Burge Foundation Collection

Winner of the The W Gordon Smith and Mrs Jay Gordon Smith Award at Visual Arts Scotland REVERB 2022

An original watercolour painting of Arisaema griffithii. I watched this plant grow in my Edinburgh garden for two years before painting this specimen. Depicting two seasons of growth, the inflorescence and leaf from the summer months, and the fruit from the autumn season.

Arisaema griffithii or utile is such a fantastic plant, I bought the tubers without seeing the adult plant and was just amazed when I saw the inflorescence, sadly though the flower wilted without even producing sterile fruits, I bought more and more tubers over a few years and finally after four years I was rewarded with some fruit, a treasure indeed! This is the earliest of my plants to emerge from the ground and its always exciting to see how many of my tubers will produce these amazing flowers. The question with this plant was which way to paint the inflorescence, I wanted to show all the typical features, including the spadix so I opted for a side on view, but I think I’m going to have to come back to this plant to focus on some front and side views too, its just so spectacular!

Botanical details

Common name: Griffith’s Cobra Lily, discovered by W. Griffith, a British colonial physician with the East India Company in Bhutan. W. Griffith subsequently became the superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Gardens.

A.griffithii is regarded as one of the most spectacular arisaema and is very popularly cultivated. It is widely distributed and as such has a great diversity across its features. In particular there is a large variability in the width across the spathe limb lobes and in colour ranging from mid brown and green to dark chocolate purple and green. There can also be significant variance in the patina and colour of the peduncle, petiole and leaf. Of all the arisaema its flattened spathe limb is most evocative of a hooded cobra, hence the common name cobra lily.

Deciduous to 60cm tall, 80 cm wide, found in Bhutan, China in the Xizang region, NE India to Sikkim and NW Bengal and also in Nepal. A.griffithii grows in rhododendron forests, but is also adapted to barley sheltered direct sun in open scrub and alpine meadows, 2400 – 3900m.

Flowering period April to May, ripening in June and July.

“The Genus Arisaema, A Monograph for Botanist and Nature Lovers“, Guy and Liliane Gusman, 2006, A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G. “Himalayan Cobra-lilies (Arisaema) Their Botany and Culture”, Udai C. Pradhan, 1990, Primulaceae Books, Himalayan Plant Journal, Kalimpong-734301, Darjeeling, Gorka Hill Council, West Bengal, India.

© Marianne Hazlewood