Arum Italicum, or Italian arum, is an herbaceous perennial from the family Araceae. This makes it closely related to plants such as Anthurium, Caladium, and Zantedechia.
Native to southern and western Europe, it is hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 9. This plant is also known as Italian lords-and-ladies.
Please note that this plant has now been declared invasive in many US states, and should not be grown in a garden in these areas. See EDDmaps for details on where it has been spotted. See the OSU Pest and Weed site, for details on how to remove Italian Arum from your garden by physical removal or herbicidal methods (Glyphosate or Metsulfuron).
This plant is not considered a major issue in the UK, where it is often grown for ground coverage, but be aware that it will eventually overtake borders and other areas of the garden if you do not keep an eye on it - it is best to control them through smothering with a layer of opaque mulch, digging up rhizomes, and removing any berries before they have a chance to ripen.
Arum Italicum hidden behind a trunk photograph by anne arnould.
It is a stem-less woodland species with tuberous roots. It grows around 1-2 feet (30 to 60 cm) tall and has a similar spread.
Resembling Jack-in-the-Pulpit, it is a low-maintenance ornamental plant.
Each bloom consists a finger-like spike covered with small, creamy white flowers that are produced in spring.
It has large leaves that are heart-shaped, 8-12 inches (20 to 30 cm) long, and an attractive glossy greyish-green.
Following blooming, the leaves die back and the plant produces bright red-orange berries in summer.
Arum italicum berries, photograph by Finn Terman Frederiksen; CC.
New foliage appears in the autumn / fall and the leaves will remain evergreen in warmer winter climates, but will die back in colder ones. In all climates, the foliage will be dormant during the summer months.
Arum Italicum looks great in shaded beds and borders or under shrubs. Many gardeners use it in woodland gardens and like to plant it alongside Hosta plants.
Italian arum leaves are evergreen and attractive, image by UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden; CC.
Be aware that its deep roots and underground bulbs make it difficult to eradicate, so plan ahead when deciding where to plant. It also spreads easily by its berries.
This gorgeous perennial with its attractive foliage and showy berries needs medium moisture in consistently moist, humus soil.
Ideally locate in areas with in part to full shade. It should be planted in a protected area if grown in Zone 5.
Clumps and tubers can be divided for propagation once Arum Italicum has finished flowering. Or by seed sown in the autumn / fall.
The berries should not be ingested, as they are toxic.
Arum italicum plant, photograph by Bernard DUPONT; CC.