Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lords and Ladies

A really interesting plant is Arum italicum. Arum italicum is also known as "Lords and Ladies". I have really debated about this posting and wasn't sure I would post it at all. I have had it ready for more than one month deciding whether or not I would post it. I have finally decided to post it with a warning. I beg of you to take this warning seriously. I have grown Arum italicum for four years now and I must say it is a well behaved plant in my garden, but in some areas of the country and in some gardens in our area, Arum italicum may spread more than the unwitting gardener would like. From the research I have done it appears that the wetter the spot the more likely it is the arum will spread. So plant it in a dry area where it might not spread as much, or don't plant it at all if you don't want volunteers. Mine is well behaved but has multiplied (I think this is good thing) in the four years I have grown it. I started with six plants and now have about 15. Not too bad.

Arum italicum is actually a little corm. I ordered six from mail order several years ago. While reworking a garden I found they were still in the same place I had planted them. I had forgotten about them because the leaves come up in the fall, disappear, then the plants bloom in the summer. I wound up moving them to another location and wonders of wonders, this plant had naturalized and spread. I now have it in two locations and more plants than what I started with. I don't mind if it naturalizes in my little woodland garden, but not everyone will appreciate this trait of the plant, so plant with caution.

The plant does fine in shade and mine are planted under a cedar tree on the north side of my yard. I am somewhat bothered as to the fact they have never bloomed for me. I am not sure why but am hopeful they will reward me with a flower next year since I moved them. The flower is on a short stem and is followed by a lot of bright red berries. Sometimes arum italicum is called the Candle Flower because of its berries. The Southern Living book says these berries are "the most conspicuous feature of the plant". I will have to wait and see once mine bloom. For now I like the marbled foliage which pops its head up this time of year. The plant works well in a shady border and is something a little unusual.

I have been fortunate to see the blooms of arum italicum. While visiting a friend here in Woodlawn near Smith Branch Road, I saw the most beautiful display of the berries of the italicum. The little garden was in the front yard on the corner of Smith Branch and Gip Manning Roads, and was loaded with the bright red berries. The area got a lot of sun so I suspect arum italicum may take more sun than I give it credit for. This is an easy care plant for the shade-just plant and forget about it.

in the garden....


  1. Very pretty plant but when you said it had not bloomed I was gonna tell you it was from the lack of sun but you beat me to it. The grenn leaves look like a butterfly. Love you.

  2. The leaves look very pretty --I'm sure the red colored berries stand out in a garden. I am fearful of plants that spread --lol. We're still working on those wisteria roots. Two out and one more to go! Did I mention the rest of the garden is empty there from all the root killer hubby applied? haha Oh well, I think Lambs Ear will grow there nicely --right Tina?

  3. We are having some serious rains here today. Normally I welcome the rains, but enough is enough. Oh well. Mom, have you ever heard of this plant? I am pretty sure it grows up north. It is pretty. These leaves will disappear in the spring. Then in August the flowers and berries come. It is lovely. Maybe the sun will do it for me this year.

    Wisteria is a bad, bad, bad to the bone vine and hard to eradicate. We might have to wait until spring to make sure all that wisteria is truly gone! Got lots of lambs ears for you. Kids will love it! The options are endless for your little side garden.

  4. Tina, I think we may have this plant growing wild in our woods! I dont recall it ever blooming though. I will see if I can spot some and snap a picture for you then we can compare the two....

    Jean, thanks for the web sights on the birch wood items. I mentioned this on the Pet People Blog but not sure how often you check in so I will repeat myself here... Did not care for the candles too much but loved the little train! Thanks for the info…

  5. Tina, you had my curiosity going with this one so I went into the woods to find the wild stuff. Not the same but similar. I will send you the pictures along with some more beautiful green I found in the garden and yard today. We just seem to over look certain things when we see them each day I guess…. Lavender, Jasmine, Monkey grass, etc…

  6. Send them up! Internet and cable are back on. Hope it stays on.

  7. Thanks for posting a warning, but you're a few years too late to help me. The people that rented my house before I bought it planted this and it has spread out of control. It's impossible to get all the little bits of bulbs up, so it keeps coming back. The animals that usually keep plants in check here in Nor Cal (deer and gophers) don't seem to like it, so I'm on my own.

  8. Jinglehorse, Sorry about your problem with the lords and ladies. They do tend to get out of control in optimum conditions and oftentimes folks just don't realize the consequences of what they plant. It is impossible to get all the bits out but you might try some Round up when the foliage emerges. Keep at it and after a few years they should all die out. Take care and congrats on starting your blog.