Monday, March 10, 2008

Italian Arum


{{{This post was written for my website A Southern Garden}}}

Italian Arum (Arum Italicum)
(aka Lords and Ladies and Painted Arum)

Hardy to Zone 5
Bloom Time - Flowers in spring, berries in summer
Colors - White flowers, orange berries

Foliage -Arrowhead-shaped, long-petioled, glossy grayish-green leaves with pale green midribs, 8-12" long
Size - 12 - 18 inches in height
Exposure - Shade or partial shade
Culture - Best in humus-rich, well-drained soils in light dappled shade.

Stumbling upon this plant in the winter landscape might lead you to think that someone accidentally set out a houseplant. It does indeed resemble the common popular houseplant called Arrowhead Plant (Syngonium). Both are members of the philodendron family Araceae but Italian Arum is a much different plant.

Dormant during the latter part of the summer, growth appears in late fall and continues throughout the winter. Cold weather doesn't phase it a bit although extreme temperatures may cause it to wilt. In late spring, foot long greenish-white spathes appear above the foliage which attract insects for pollination. The foliage then begins to die back and a cluster of dark orange berries appear. The fruit clusters are very attractive and can be used in arrangements. Following this phase, the plant is dormant until fall.

Italian Arum grows from small corms which can be dug up and transplanted. I've also found that the plant will transplant well by digging up the entire plant during the leaf stage. This is an easy to grow plant and looks wonderful in woodland gardens or planted with hostas or hellebores.

A note of caution - Italian Arum can be very invasive in warm climate gardens. Gardeners in California especially refer to it as a pest. I've never had this problem in my garden. All parts of the plant are poisonous.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Phillip,

    Cool plant. I have never tried to grow it but may give it a chance now.

    I meant to comment on your shots of the Nashville Garden Show. I thought you did great with the camera and it was nice you got to meet a Gardening guru. You probably felt the same way I did when I met Christopher Lloyd.

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  2. Today was the first day I cleaned some leaves away from my Hellebores and Arum Italicum. I can tell you that it's not super vigorous here on Long Island (east of New York city) but it certainly is hardy. In fact I wish I had enough to share with others but I do have it in a fairly dry location. It's a wonderful plant to do a feature on.

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  3. Hi Phillip, Enjoyed your post on Arum Italicum. For some unknown reason, my clump of it did not return this year, and I miss it. Perhaps the drought last year and/or some greedy timber bamboo roots did mine in. Nice shots of your garden covered with snow!
    Jon in Vicksburg, Miss.

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  4. Phillip, thanks for posting on this wonderful plant. We have it and it is far from invasive here in TN. It was good to find out that it can be divided now, in leaf. It was a passalong plant and I was afraid it would be killed if divided. I want to spread it around as it has such great winter interest.

    Frances at Faire Garden

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  5. Is there a way to rid my flower beds of Arum? It is becoming a ground cover in places where I don't want it.

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