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I’ve always admired caladiums but never grew them until this year. One plant put up two leaves and then a strange-looking thing that definitely was not a leaf. It turned out to be a spathe with a fat spadix inside. How common is this, and does the spadix contain both male and female flowers?

Answer:

It’s not very common for caladiums to form flowers, but apparently the environmental conditions in your garden were just right for them. Like the related calla lily and Jack-in-the-pulpit, the flowering structure consists of a hooded, petal-like bract called the spathe and a spike called a spadix. The tiny flowers are crowded along the spadix with the female flowers on the lower part and the male flowers above them. Following pollination the plant will form white berries.

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