An IPNI search turned up seventeen names for the aroid genus Pinellia a member of the Araceae family . Of these, four are commonly encountered in American gardens: ternata, pedatisecta, tripartita and cordata. Two of these, ternata and pedatisecta, are weedy under eastern North American conditions. These are the species discussed - by way of warning - below. Pinellia tripartita seems less rambunctious; and P. cordata is, if anything, not vigorous enough.
Pinellia cordata is a small plant 20 cm tall with marbled or green dentate leaves, and a small green spathe with long spadix. Giorgio Pozzi May 2007.
Pinellia pedatisecta is a much bigger, coarser plant, up to about thirty inches in rich soil. This is another one which makes itself at home in the garden a little too willingly. Every seed seems to germinate and cling to dear life wherever it falls. It will form corms three inches in diameter. Here it is, also given the lab treatment in an effort to tame its appeal to aroid fanciers. Yanked unceremoniously from and photographed in the garden of Jim McKenney. The second photo was taken in the garden by Giorgio Pozzi, this is a tall variety very proliferous with many spathes blooming from May to late August.
Pinellia ternata aka P. tuberifera is one of those maddeningly cute little plants which turn out to be ineradicable weeds. If you see this offered, and the "cute factor" starts to kick in : control yourself! The plant suggests a rangy Arisarum proboscideum and produces the same "mouse-tail" effect in the garden. Before you know it, the mice will be everywhere. You have been warned. Rather than show you a photo of this plant in "cute mode", it is shown here spread out lab style so you won't accuse me of leading to your downfall if you give in and plant it. Remember: stay objective, this is not a nice plant here in the Middle Atlantic States of the US. Plucked as a weed and photographed in the garden of Jim McKenney. The second photo taken by Giorgio Pozzi May 2008 shows a clump in pot.
Pinellia tripartita is up to 40 cm tall plus the spadix of 20/30 cm; it is very easy to grow, quickly forming large clumps with new plants from the mother-tuber. The second specimen has shiny-waxed leaves and a more serrated spathe.Photos by Giorgio Pozzi, May 2006.
Pinellia tripartita 'Atropurpurea' is a well behaved Pinellia species in my garden reaching 18 inches in height and gently seeding about. Photo by Mark Mazer.