Arums are relatives of calla lilies (Zantedeschia), and the cobra lily or jack-in-the-pulpit (arisaema). Although not a real lily (genus Lilium), Arum is sometimes referred to as the Arum lily, but then again, so is the Calla Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica.
Arum Lilies are deer-resistant and easy to grow. Arum flowers are beautiful white, purple or yellow spathe and spadix structures that grow along side or just above the arrowhead shaped leaves. You have to be quick to see the flowers though as they only last a few days each. Arum foliage is beautiful and really stands out in the winter garden, especially the variegated Arums with contrasting silver spots and veins. The most popular species is Arum italicum, which has the prettiest leaf patterns. Arum flowers are followed by stalks of bright red berries that stand alone after the foliage has gone dormant. We grow and trial a wide variety of arums for the woodland garden including many of the Arum italicum selections. When you are ready to buy arums for your garden, we think you'll find our selection of arum plants for sale one of the best in the country.
Arums are distributed widely in the old world but their center of diversity is the Mediterranean. We have some great Arum collections from our plant hunting expeditions in that region including our favorite, a yellow flowered form from the island of Crete called Arum creticum. All arums feature a novel and useful trait...they are summer dormant. Arum leaves emerge when the weather starts to cool in fall and they fill in your empty garden beds during the winter. They finally go dormant in the spring just as all the 'normal' perennials are getting started. Very convenient! Try pairing Arum with deciduous ferns or hosta for year-long foliage. Or let them grow alongside evergreens like Helleborus and ophiopogon where they can add structural variety to the garden during the winter.
Like Amorphophallus and other cousins, Arum plants are thermogenic and generate heat when in flower. How weird is that! Sometimes they can heat up by 30 degrees F over the surrounding air temperature. Not enough to roast marshmallows by, but still fascinating. Do not eat any parts of this plant. Like many plants, Arum produces tiny, razor sharp crystals of calcium oxalate called raphides. These will cause a strong burning sensation in your mouth, stomach or anywhere else they find themselves. These red berries are for looking, not eating. some cultures eat the bulbs or leaves, but we do not recommend that either because the raphide crystals are in these structures too and they are only destroyed if Arum is properly cooked.