Wandering through Uphill yesterday I spotted this most lovely display of arum lilies. Having taken a photo of them, I began to ponder on where they originated from; they look so exotic, really lush. Apparently they originate from South Africa and are also known as calla lilies; however they aren’t actually lilies at all they are from the arum family or aroid family of plants. The white bit which I thought was a petal is the spathe or floral bract, and the pointy yellow, gold r orange middle bit is a spadix or floral spike, and on it are tiny weeny flowers… I must look more closely!
They have been known in Europe for hundreds of years, and were classified by Linnaeus in 1753; what I didn’t realise is that cuckoo pint, which grows wild in our garden, is a distant cousin… but is very, very poisonous. Cuckoo pint is also called snakeshead, adder’s root, arum,wild arum, lords-and-ladies, devils and angels, cows and bulls, Adam and Eve, bobbins, naked boys, starch-root, wake robin, friar’s cowl and jack in the pulpit… what a lot of names, I guess it is such an unusual looking plant it suggested a lot of descriptive language!
The rhizomes of the arum lily are edible, but like its English cousin cuckoo pint, the berries and leaves are supposed to toxic. Cuckoo pint has bright red berries, the arum lily has greeny-orange ones… again I have never noticed, but I will keep my eye on the specimen I saw yesterday, and I hope to take another photo when the fruit has developed.