INFORMATION ABOUT ARUM PLANTS…
By: Nikki Phipps
Image by Lollie-Pop Arums consist of numerous species with many native to tropical regions and other Arums are native to temperate regions. Arums grow in sun or light shade and prefer moist, humus-rich soil. Arums tubers should be planted in the fall approximately 1-2 inches deep, depending on the species. Arum species look great planted in masses along streams and ponds or as edging in woodland gardens. Arums can also be used as container-grown or specimen plants in a mixed border. Arum species reach their peak in fall and winter, adding seasonal interest with their ornamental berries. One note of caution, however, these berries are highly toxic. Many small rodents, however, appear to find these plants particularly attractive and it is not uncommon to find plants with much of the spadix eaten away.
Italian arum (A. italicum) is native to Mediterranean region and northern Africa. The Italian arum tubers produce spear-shaped, green and silver mottled leaves and greenish-white hood-like flower. Once flowering fades, the leaves die and the stem becomes covered with orange-red berries. Flowering takes place during spring and plant height reaches about 8-10 inches.
Another species of the arum family, but different genus, is the Japanese arum (A. sikokianum). This plant is native to Japan, and its tubers produce three green leaflets with a striped brown and white pulpit-like hood. It reaches a height of about 8 inches when mature.
The jack-in-the-pulpit, or Indian turnip (A. triphyllum), is native to North America. This species is very similar to that of the Japanese arum but is larger, up to 12 inches tall. Jack-in-the-pulpits can either be purplish-striped, greenish-white striped, or brown and white striped. After flowering, the jack-in-the-pulpit plant produces crimson berries. Its starchy corms were once eaten by the Native Americans and used as sources of medicinal substances as well.
Known as Lord and Ladies and Cuckoo pint (A. maculatum), this Arum is a common plant in the northern temperate regions of Europe. The purple spotted leaves appear in the spring followed by the flowers borne on a type of inflorescence called a spadix. The purple spadix is partially enclosed in, a pale green spathe or leaf-like hood. This Arum species derives its name from the time of the flower’s appearance, usually with the first appearance of cuckoos.
One of the most interesting members of the Arum family is the Swamp or Skunk Cabbage (S. foetidus). The large hood-like spathe encloses the rounded mass of the spadix, which is completely covered by florets. If you attempt to dig one up, you’ll find that the bulbous root is some distance down. This Arum plant is considered a “burrowing bulb.” From the stem just above the bulb, strong roots are sent downward and once established to the main roots, they will contract, pulling the bulb deeper within the ground.
The water arum (C. palustris) closely resembles its cousins, the Skunk Cabbage and the Jack-in-the-pulpit. The heart-shaped leaves are pointed at the tip with a greenish-yellow cylindrical spadix. The plant is most at home in northern regions in cool bogs and along the borders of shallow streams within woodland areas.