Italian Arum (aka Lords and Ladies)
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.
Comments - 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 (see bottom photo). 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.
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