Pass Along Old Fashioned Arum Lily

Old Fashioned Arum Lily

Arum Lily

Our old house was built in 1894, and it came with an heirloom bulb “collection.” Thousands of daffodils still crowd the edges of the paths and drive, the old orange daylily still lines the ditches, and several clumps of this old favorite, the old fashioned Arum lily, come back every fall at the base of our oak trees.

Arum italicum is rarely noticed except this time of year. Fresh, bright green leaves with beautiful silver veining have emerged in these last weeks. Old clumps can be a yard or more across, the individual leaves a foot or more in length. Paula uses the leaves in her winter flower arrangements.

Blooming in midwinter to spring, blooms resemble a pale, folded paper pouch. By summer, a cluster of red berries has replaced the bloom, and the leaves have disappeared (this is referred to as summer dormancy). Chipmunks bury the seeds at the base of trees, and what they don’t eat germinate and eventually form new colonies.

Arum lilies are not members of the Lily family. They are seldom seen in catalogs or garden centers. Passed along from gardener to gardener, like chipmunks sharing seeds, these old bulbs remain in gardens without much fuss or hype, doing their thing when most other plants are taking a few weeks off.

Mike Rushing

Mike and Paula Rushing have been gardening in St. Clair county since 1990, and In Forest Park since 2007. A Jefferson County Master Gardener and course instructor at Master Gardening classes, Mike also volunteers weekly at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

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