Arum italicum ‘White Winter’

Plant of the month: February

Arum italicum ‘White Winter’

Also known as: Italian arum ‘White Winter’

Family: Araceae

Native to: Garden Origin

Blooms: May, June, July

Where to find it at the BBG&G: Rock Garden

Like many of the ornamental arums, ‘White Winter’ distinguishes itself for the dramatic foliage and berry effects. First are the leaves, which start to grow in late autumn when the plants come back from dormancy. They are striking, with their arrow-shaped, white-marbled leaves. 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 very peculiar inflorescence is diagnostic of 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 Arum dormant period in the summer. The plants prefer a moist woodland setting but will tolerate summer dryness. Unfortunately this plant is not for a child-friendly garden – calcium oxalate can be found in all parts of the plant, which when eaten forms sharp structures called raphids, causing swelling and severe discomfort. The sap is also irritating to the skin…