Genital plants

Two cards in succession in the Art of Instruction set: acorns and arums, both visually similar to human genitals, a fact recognized in some of the common names for the plants.

The acorn. The object:


The Art of Instruction card tells me that the French for acorn is gland. Yes, as in the body-part.On the body-part, from OED2:

< French glande gland, tumour, altered form of Old French glandre (see glander n.), *glandle , < Latin *glandula glandule n.

glandule, n.: diminutive of gland-, glans acorn. A gland. Obs.The word is chiefly current in the 17th cent. and is then applied esp. to the glands of the throat and neck, or to the tonsils, though also used as a general term.

The image here is of the glands of the throat and neck as acorn-like.

And that brings us to the glans penis. From Wikipedia:

In male human anatomy, the glans penis (or simply glans, …. is the sensitive bulbous structure at the distal end of the penis. The glans is anatomically homologous to the clitoral glans of the human female. Typically, the glans is completely or partially covered by the foreskin, except in men who have been circumcised, though the foreskin can generally be retracted over and past the glans.

The glans is more commonly known as the “head of the penis”. The medical name comes from the Latin word glans (‘acorn’) and penis (‘of the penis’) – the Latin genitive of this word has the same form as the nominative.

No illustrations here, because that would be over the WordPress line, but there are plenty on AZBlogX, for instance in the “beautiful penis” postings (here from 4/1/13 and here from 4/4/13).

End note, on acorns:

The acorn, or oak nut, is the nut of the oaks and their close relatives (genera Quercus and Lithocarpus, in the family Fagaceae). It usually contains a single seed (rarely two seeds), enclosed in a tough, leathery shell, and borne in a cup-shaped cupule. (Wikipedia link)

And on the word, from OED2:

Old English æcern, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aker, also to acre, later associated with oak and corn.

And still later, associated with egg and corn, giving us the eggcorn.

Arums. Start with the genus, from Wikipedia:

Arum is a genus of about 25 species of flowering plants in the family Araceae, native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean region. Frequently called “arum lilies”, they are not closely related to the true lilies Lilium. Plants in the closely related tribe Zantedeschia are also called “arum lilies”.

They are rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial plants growing to 20–60 cm tall, with sagittate (arrowhead-shaped) leaves 10–55 cm long. The flowers are produced in a spadix, surrounded by a 10–40 cm long, coloured spathe, which may be white, yellow, brown or purple; some species are scented, others not. The fruit is a cluster of bright orange or red berries.

All parts of the plants are poisonous, containing significant amounts of calcium oxalate as raphides.

Arum maculatum:


Arum maculatum is a common woodland plant species of the Araceae family. It is widespread across temperate northern Europe and is known by an abundance of common names including snakeshead, adder’s root, arum, wild arum, arum lily, lords and ladies, devils and angels, cows and bulls, cuckoo-pint, Adam and Eve, bobbins, naked boys, starch-root, wake robin, friar’s cowl and jack in the pulpit. The name “lords and ladies” and other gender related names refer to the plant’s likeness to male ♂ and female ♀ genitalia symbolising copulation. (Wikipedia link)

That’s one jack in the pulpit. Then there’s the one I was familiar with as a child (also in the Araceae):


Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip, American wake robin, or wild turnip) is a herbaceous perennial plant growing from a corm. It is a highly variable species typically growing from 30–65 centimetres (12–26 in) in height with three parted leaves and flowers contained in a spadix that is covered by a hood. It is native to eastern North America, occurring in moist woodlands and thickets from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota, and south to southern Florida. (Wikipedia link)

5 Responses to “Genital plants”

  1. Victor Says:

    Funny how the mind works sometimes… “Genital plants” somehow reminded me of genital implants, which, in turn, was connected to a story on an “unusual practice” of Philippino sailors of inserting hard beads under the skin in the penis, usually using something like a chopstick. Apparently the practice is prevalent only among this subculture. No connection to vegetation, AFAIK.

  2. Sim Aberson Says:

    There is the amorphophallus, of which I have a good number of amorphophallus gigas (big shapeless penis). Mike and I just call them penises for short. We always have penises in our yard.

  3. Monroe Thomas Clewis Says:

    Do “genital fruit” also count in this discussion?

    avocado (n.)

    1763, from Spanish avocado, altered (by folk etymology influence of earlier Spanish avocado “lawyer,” from same Latin source as advocate (n.)) from earlier aguacate, from Nahuatl ahuakatl “avocado” (with a secondary meaning “testicle” probably based on resemblance), from proto-Nahuan *pawa “avocado.” As a color-name, first attested 1945. The English corruption alligator (pear) is 1763, from Mexican Spanish alvacata, alligato.


  4. Arum maculatum | Find Me A Cure Says:

    […] Genital plants […]

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