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Gardening with California’s Monocots: Slink-pod

Articles: Gardening with California’s Monocots: Slink-pod

This is the fourth and final excerpt, adapted with permission from Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasses: Gardening With California’s Monocots, edited by Nora Harlow and Kristin Jakob and published in 2004 by University of California Press and the California Native Plant Society.
Adder’s-tongue or slink-pod (Scoliopus bigelovii). Drawing by Kristen Jakob

Slink-pod or adder’s-tongue (Scoliopus bigelovii), a long-lived perennial herb, is a memorable plant for woodlands, moist slopes, and shady rock gardens along the coast. Visible just three or four months of the year, it is grown more for its showy foliage than for its flowers, and it is an excellent plant for the winter garden. It should be placed so the unusual flowers can be seen. As the tightly wrapped leaves begin to unfold, green, tan, purple, or blackish flowers with narrow, erect petals appear on six-inch stalks above the leaves.

The odor of the flowers, which some people find unpleasant, is not noticeable except when plants are massed in large drifts. Flowers last a week or two, until the sepals drop; then the stalks with ripening seedpods elongate a...

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