Ambrosinia bassii is a very rare aroid, and at no more than an inch tall you can see why!

Ambrosinia bassii is an oddity, even by aroid standards! This diminutive gem has little interest for anyone but the most avid collector, yet for anyone who likes plants tiny, rare and unusual Ambrosinia bassii is a must-have.

Ambrosinia is a genus of only one species, native to Sardinia and southern Italy, as well as the Mediterranean end of Algeria. Usually it is found in woodland or scrub in a well drained humus rich soil.

The first thing you see is it's tiny oval shaped leaves, no more than an inch (2.5cm) or so tall and up to two inches (5cm) tall. Even smaller than the leaves is the inflorescence! The one pictured below must be half and inch (1.75cm) at it's longest point!

The inflorescence of this species is very unusual, reminding me of a small snail! The appeal of it to me is that the more you look at the spathe the more you see of its elaborate detail. Parts of the spathe have black markings that almost look like scales!

I believe that Ambrosinia may have the fewest flowers in the aroid family- just one female flower and up to ten males, both separated in different chambers, in each inflorescence. So far my inflorescence appears not to have opened.

Rather interestingly the seeds of Ambrosinia are distributed by ants- the seed is carried away by the ants to their underground chambers, and once the ants have eaten the sweet seed coating they abandon the seed, which then germinates at just the right depth! This clever trick is also used by Cyclamen both in the wild and in the garden.