Arum italicum ‘White Winter’
Plant of the month: February
Also known as: Italian arum ‘White Winter’
Native to: Garden Origin
Blooms: May, June, July
Where to find it at the BBG: Rock Garden
Like many of the ornamental arums ‘White Winter’ distinguishes itself with its dramatic foliage and berry effects. The striking arrow-shaped, white-marbled leaves start to grow in late autumn when the plants come back from dormancy. The flowers meanwhile are tiny, but grouped together into a spadix (a spike-like inflorescence) and enclosed within a spathe (a large, greenish-white bract). Such a peculiar inflorescence helps to distinguish species in the arum family, members are colloquially known as aroids. The radiant spikes of red-orange berries are produced later and are very ornamental.
Good garden pairings are Hosta, Hemerocallis, Iris and other plants which will complement the dormant period of the Arum in the summer. They prefer a moist woodland setting but will tolerate summer dryness. Unfortunately this plant is not suitable for a child-friendly garden – calcium oxalate can be found in all parts of the plant, which when eaten forms sharp structures called raphids and will cause swelling and severe discomfort. The sap is also irritating to the skin.