With Spencer Shaw
Large lush deep green leaves of Cunjevoi add a tropical twist to the landscape and this particular plant fits into this category. Our largest local member of the Arum Family ARACEAE, this fleshy herb grows to between one and one and a half metres high on the Sunshine Coast, with large leaves up to half a metre long. Being this big and lush requires plenty of moisture and if not shade then certainly protection from wind and its drying effects, hence it is often found along slow moving creeks, shady wetlands and generally in rainforests.
There’s a story about that I often see referred to, that traditional Indigenous medicine advocates it as a cure for Stinging Tree Dendrocnide spp stings, however this may be ok if you are a skilled practitioner of Indigenous medicine (but most of us aren’t) and the sap can be very irritating on its own – may just take the edge of the Stinging Tree by causing its own inflammation! I’ve witnessed a very severe reaction to the sap from the leaves on a fellow Bush Regenerator and after witnessing that experience, give me Stinging Tree any day! Do not put any raw part of the plant in your mouth as it contains potent irritants that can cause swelling of your throat – not good.
Now you’re all scared and taking a wide berth of Cunjevoi in the bush – just in case it attacks you, let’s focus on the positive. The tall white / cream / green arum flowers are very nicely perfumed to us and are insect attracting and pollinated. The flowers are followed by clustered bright red fruit, which given everything else I’ve said about this plant – do not eat them, just for the birds! They are a great plant for boggy shady areas, one of the few local plants that really thrive in these conditions.
Cunjevoi’s heart shaped leaves will always have a special place in my heart, and are an essential part of the understorey in the very moist sections of rainforests.