560 Orontium aquaticumCommon Names: golden club, neverwet Family: Araceae (arum Family)
The leaves of golden club are bluish green, 6-10 in (15-25.4 cm) long and 2-4 in (5-10.2 cm) wide on petioles (leaf stems) up to 18 in (46 cm) long, and may be submerged, floating or standing upright in the air. They have a powdery bloom on them (that is, the leaves are glaucus) that causes water to bead, hence the name, "neverwet." The petioles arise from a large, thick rhizome (rootstock) that is usually quite deep in the mud. In spring tiny yellow flowers are borne on a spadix about 4 in (10.2 cm) long at the end of a white cylindrical stalk that usually stands above the leaves. Small blue-green berries follow in summer.
Golden club, Orontium aquaticum, occurs naturally in shallow water and swamps mainly on the Atlantic Coastal Plain from New York to Florida and west to Louisiana. There are a few isolated populations farther inland. There is only one species in the genus, but the family, the Araceae or arum family, includes such familiar plants as Jack-in-the-pulpit, skunk cabbage and the elephant's ear (Colocasia esculenta).
CultureLight: Does best in bright light, but can tolerate semi-shade. Direct sunlight brings out the full beauty and luster of the leaves. Moisture: Keep the rootstock of golden club wet. It can be grown completely submerged or in saturated soil with no standing water at all. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 - 11. Propagation: Golden club spreads vegetatively by underground stems called rhizomes. These rhizomes can be divided in spring for transplanting. Also, the shoots that arise from the rootstock can be separated off and transplanted. The seeds are said to be easy to germinate in a seed-starting mix under an inch of water.
Golden club does well at the edge of garden ponds or in shallow ornamental pools. It is at its best in full sunlight in about a foot of water so the leaves can float, water lily-like. Plant rhizomes directly in the substrate at the water's edge or out to a maximum depth of 18 in (46 cm).
Golden club mixes nicely with marginal, shoreline plants like pickerelweed and irises and also goes well with floating plants like water lilies and hyacinths. The rootstocks can be sliced, thoroughly dried and ground into a flour that is said to be tasty and nutritious. The nutlike seeds also can be thoroughly dried and ground into flour or boiled and eaten like beans.
All parts of golden club contain calcium oxalate crystals which cause an intense burning sensation in the mouth if eaten raw. Boiling does not eliminate this acrid characteristic, but thorough drying does.
Steve Christman 07/29/99; updated 10/2/03