The Beautiful And Ever Popular Arum Lily
The Arum Lily is a large perennial herb that grows from a rhizome. Although it's often associated with funerals, it's also popular as a wedding plant. The flowers of the Arum lily are actually very small, and cover the spadix, which in turn is surrounded by a large, trumpet-like spathe. The spathe and spadix in combination give the Arum lily its unmistakable appearance. The spate is sometimes referred to as Archangel Gabrielle's trumpet.
More Commonly Known As The Calla Lily - The Arum lily, also called the Calla lily, originates in South Africa, was introduced to America in the mid-nineteenth century, and has grown in popularity ever since. More commonly known as the Calla lily, the plant is actually not a lily at all, but is a member of the Araceae family, the Zantedeschia genus, and the aethiopica species. The Arum lily is sometimes referred to in botanical terms as Calla aethiopica.
Handle Carefully - The Arum lily is a fairly large plant, often attaining a height of around 4 feet. It is hardy in USDA Zones 8 through 11, though sometimes will do well in slightly cooler climates. The plant is often associated with funerals and death, but probably more so because of its beauty and not so much due to the fact that all parts of it are poisonous. Even handling the plant can cause an allergic reaction in some people, yet its popularity continues to grow. A survey taken of plant owners proved to be overwhelmingly positive, even though several owners noted their plants failed to bloom for several seasons after planting. While an Arum lily plan that does not produce the showy bloom might be a disappointment, the plant is often grown simply for its attractive foliage, the bloom being icing on the cake so to speak.
Easy To Grow And Propagate - Few report much in the way of difficulty in growing the plant. It does prefer sun to shade, but once established seems to thrive on neglect. In some areas, usually warmer locations, the Arum lily is known to have become invasive. The usual way of propagating the Arum lily is through rhizome division, although the plant can also be grown from seed. When the plant goes to seed, the seeds may be collected once the seed head is dried, but the fleshy coating on the seeds must be removed before the seeds can be stored, or mildew will become a problem. As mentioned above, some people have an allergic reaction to the plant, and it's advisable to wear gloves when gathering or handling the seeds.
Not Really From (Present Day) Ethiopia - As names go, those naming the Arum lily didn't quite get it right. As mentioned previously, the arum lily is not a lily (genus Lilium), nor is it a member of the genus Arum. The name of the species, aethiopica, is often taken to relate to the country of Ethiopia. In earlier times, when Africa was still known as the Dark Continent, all of Africa south of Egypt, and not just Ethiopia, was generally referred to as Aethiopica. There's no arguing about the name of the genus, Zantedeschia, however. The plant was named after its discoverer, the Italian botanist Professor Giovanni Zantedeschi.
Whatever its name, the Arum lily is truly a spectacular plant, attractive enough when just grown for its foliage, but quite stunning once the cream-white to snow-white bloom appears. The Arum lily is appropriate for funerals, and weddings, and as an old fashioned plant in an old fashioned cottage garden as well. Just remember to wear gloves and it will give you no problem.