Arum Italicum: Perennial that Grows in Winter

Arum italicum

Arum italicum is a shade plant that grows in January and dies back in summer.

Always on the lookout for unique shade plants, I couldn’t resist buying a small Arum italicum last March. The plant’s common name is Italian Arum or Italian Lords-and-Ladies.

It’s all about the foliage. Arum italicum have arrowhead-shaped deep green leaves with white to light green veins that create wonderful contrast. I planted it in my shade garden out back. In June, it disappeared. I was sure I killed it. It wouldn’t be the first.

Arum italicum2

Arum italicum will flower and produce berries, but it’s the unique leaves that attract me.

Surprise! The Arum italicum reappeared in September. I couldn’t believe it. Better yet, the leaves stayed green all winter despite two periods of frost and a little snow. Now in January, new leaves are emerging. It’s refreshing to have a growing green plant in the middle of winter.

Accidentally discarding the tag, I didn’t even know the plant’s name. The folks at West Seattle Nursery helped me identify it last week. I’ve learned Arum italicum will grow from 1 to 1.5 feet tall and wide. Jack-in-Pulpit type flowers will emerge in April or May, followed by orange-red berries. From what I read, the plant and berries are toxic, but probably won’t kill you.

Gardeners in milder climates (not the Midwest) like Arum Italicum because the plant provides shade foliage at different times than Hostas. The plant has invasive tendencies, but I’m not worried, as I’m far too mean of a gardener for it to grow uncontrollably.

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