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Zantedeschia aethiopica is one of the world's most iconic and widely known plants. Although commonly known as the arum lily or calla lily, it is not a lily at all but an aroid, with its brilliant white spathe (floral bract) surrounding the central pale yellow spadix (floral spike) bearing tiny flowers.

Zantedeschia aethiopica (arum lily)

[CPLC]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Naturalizada en Colombia; Alt. 100 - 150 m.; Andes.
Morphology General Habit
Hierba
Conservation
No Evaluada

[UNAL]

Bernal, R., G. Galeano, A. Rodríguez, H. Sarmiento y M. Gutiérrez. 2017. Nombres Comunes de las Plantas de Colombia. http://www.biovirtual.unal.edu.co/nombrescomunes/

Vernacular
cartucho, cartucho amarillo, cartucho blanco, rascador

[CATE]

CATE Araceae, 17 Dec 2011. araceae.e-monocot.org

Diagnostic

Robust evergreen plant up to 60 cm high, without a dark purple area at the base of the spathe inside; the ovaries are interspersed with staminodes; and the limb, which is consistently ivory-white is broad and widely spreading backwards. In typical plants the spadix is bright yellow. Petiole smooth, without bristles; female flowers interspersed with staminodes.

See also Singh, Y., van Wyk, A.E. & Baijnath, H. (1995). Know your arums: an easy guide to identfy members of the genus Zantedeschia. Veld & Flora 81: 54 - 55.
General Description
Plants glabrous up to 60 cm tall (sometimes up to 2,5 m under trees). LEAVES evergreen, up to 60 cm long; petiole green; blade usually immaculate, characteristically more or less spreading and leathery, varied in shape but usually broadly ovate-cordate or hastate, 15-20 cm long, 10-15 cm broad at the base, apex obtuse or acute, the length of the blade above the basal lobes usually less than twice the width. INFLORESCENCE: Peduncle 30-60 cm long, green, glabrous, triangular in cross-section, 2,5 x 2 cm at base. Spathe about 15 cm long, 12 cm broad, ivory-white inside, bright green at base outside merging into white upwards, longitudinally veined, folded from slightly below the insertion of the spadix into a wide-mouthed funnel, limb obliquely spreading, ending in a green recurving 2 cm long apiculus. Spadix sessile, male zone about 7 cm long, anthers bright yellow, 1,5-2 mm long, 1-1,5 mm broad with 2 pores, pollen white; female zone about 1,8 cm long, ovaries interspersed with numerous mushroom-shaped staminodes; ovaries about 4 mm long, globose, grooved, pale yellow-green grading to whitish at the tip, tapering to a short style 1,5 mm long, 3 locular, each locule with 1-4 ovules. INFRUCTESCENCE: Fruits numerous 1,2 cm long, 1-1,2 cm in diam. across the top, green at first, becoming soft and orange coloured at the base and greenish at the apex when ripe, tapering to a triangular base with a short persistent style at the apex, seeds 1-12.
Distribution
Native to South Africa in Provinces : Limpopo, North-West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Western Cape, Eastern Cape
Habitat
Plants of this species grow in marshy depressions
Phenology
Its main flowering period is from August until January, but in Natal and the Transvaal occasional flowers are found from February to July.

[FTEA]

Araceae, S.J. Mayo. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1985

Diagnostic
This species is easily distinguished from Z. albomaculata by its pure white spathes and the numerous clavate-spathulate staminodes scattered among the pistillate flowers.

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description

Zantedeschia aethiopica , has been known to European horticulture since at least the 1660s and is one of the world's most iconic and widely known plants. Although commonly known as the arum lily or calla lily, it is not a lily at all but an aroid, with its brilliant white spathe (floral bract) surrounding the central pale yellow spadix (floral spike) bearing tiny flowers.

Carl Linnaeus described it in 1753 as Calla aethiopica and it has been commonly known as the calla lily ever since. The species epithet 'aethiopica' refers to the fact that it is native to Africa. In 1826 Sprengel transferred it to a new genus which he called Zantedeschia. According to Cythna Letty (1973), the name was probably given in honour of Giovanni Zantedeschi, an Italian botanist who lived in the early 19th century.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

The arum lily is native to South Africa (provinces of Limpopo, North-West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Western Cape, Eastern Cape), Lesotho and Swaziland. It grows in marshy places from 20 to 2,250 metres above sea level. Although native to Southern Africa it is also widely naturalised throughout the tropics.

Description

The arum lily is well known for its striking appearance when in flower, with a brilliant white floral bract wrapping around a yellow finger-like projection in the centre. The flowering parts arise from a ring of glossy green leaves. 

Zantedeschia aethiopica is a perennial herb growing up to 60 cm tall (or taller in the shade). It has a thick, fleshy, underground rhizome (swollen stem).

The leaves are evergreen, hairless and form a rosette. The leaves are somewhat leathery, and usually broadly oval with lobes at the base. The inflorescence (flowering part) is on a stalk up to 60 cm long. The spathe (floral bract) is about 15 cm long and 12 cm wide. It is ivory-white on the inside and the outside is bright green at the base and gradually becomes white towards the top. The lower part forms a wide-mouthed funnel, and the much wider upper part spreads out with its tip curled under. The spadix (floral spike) has an upper zone of about 7 cm long, which is covered with tiny bright yellow anthers (male parts). These produce slender threads of white pollen when ripe. The spadix also has a lower zone, which is covered with yellow-green to whitish pistils (female parts) interspersed with mushroom-shaped sterile structures. The fruits are green berries which become soft and orange-coloured at the base when ripe.

Uses

All parts of the plant are poisonous, causing irritation and swelling of the mouth and acute gastric diarrhoea. The sap can cause eczema and dermatitis of the skin and is also an irritant to the mucous membranes and eyes. In southern Africa, where the species occurs naturally, the leaves and rhizomes are traditionally used to dress wounds and bites. The leaves and rhizomes are also reported to be eaten, but only following careful preparation to remove the needle-like calcium oxalate crystals, known as raphides.  

Due to its striking inflorescences,  Zantedeschia aethiopica  is very popular as cut flowers and as an ornamental. It is used as a symbol of purity in bridal and funeral flower arrangements.

Scientists have shown that Zantedeschia aethiopica  may be useful in artificial wetland systems to clean waste water and prevent algal growth.

Cultivation

This moderately hardy monocotyledon can be grown outside in the UK. In any position it will grow best in moist soil or shallow water. In its natural habitat it can be deciduous or evergreen, depending on the rainfall and soil water rather than temperature. The position in which it is planted will also determine size and flowering. Planting under shade is preferable if there is no boggy position for this plant, but this will reduce the number of flowers and result in a smaller plant. Fertile soil is required. In optimum conditions a good display of flowers can be enjoyed in the spring and summer.

Propagation can be by seed or division. Seeds can be removed from the pulp of the fruit when it has turned yellow or orange and soft but gloves should be worn due to the toxicity of the plant. The seeds should then be dried off for sowing in the spring. They should be sown sparingly to allow space for the fleshy roots to form. A seed compost should be used and the seeds covered lightly. Division of the fleshy rootstock should be done when the plant is dormant. It can then be planted at a depth of 5 cm.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: One

Germination testing: Successful

Arum lily at Kew

You can see Zantedeschia aethiopica growing at Kew in the Duke's Garden, on the south side by the wall. There are also extensive plantings along the stream in the Secluded Garden, and a large planting of the popular cultivar 'Crowborough' can be seen in the Plant Family Beds.

Distribution
South Africa
Ecology
Marshy places in Southern Africa.
Conservation
Classified as Least Concern (LC) according to the IUCN Red List criteria.
Hazards

All parts of the plant are poisonous, causing irritation and swelling of the mouth and acute gastric diarrhoea.

[FTEA]
Use
Is cultivated throughout the world for its beautiful inflorescences and has escaped from cultivation in various parts of the tropics in cooler upland areas, e.g. Tanzania, Matalu 3309!, Batty 635!

Native to:

Cape Provinces, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Northern Provinces, Swaziland

Introduced into:

Albania, Algeria, Assam, Azores, Bermuda, Brazil Northeast, California, Canary Is., Colombia, Corse, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, East Aegean Is., East Himalaya, Ecuador, Great Britain, Greece, Hawaii, India, Italy, Madeira, Mexico Southwest, Morocco, Mozambique, New South Wales, New Zealand North, Nicaragua, Norfolk Is., Oregon, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Réunion, Sardegna, Sicilia, Society Is., South Australia, Spain, St.Helena, Trinidad-Tobago, Tristan da Cunha, Tunisia, Turkey, Victoria, Western Australia, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe

English
Arum lily

Zantedeschia aethiopica (L.) Spreng. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
58079.000
7467.000
Mayo, S. [854], Bahia K000303422
Mayo, S. [854], Bahia K000303424
Mayo, S. [854], Bahia K000303423
Mayo, S. [854], Bahia K000303425

First published in Syst. Veg. ed. 16, 3: 765 (1826)

Accepted by

  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Barina, Z., Rakaj, m. & Pifkó, D. (2013). Contributions to the flora of Albania, 4 Willdenowia 43: 165-184.
  • Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2008). Flora Iberica 18: 1-420. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid.
  • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2013). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 5: 1-451. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • El Makni, R. & Hédi El Aouni, M. (2012). Zantedeschia aethiopica (Araceae) a new species naturalised in the Northwest of Tunisia Flora Mediterranea 22: 191-196.
  • Galanos, C.J. (2015). The alien flora of terrestrial and marine ecosystems of Rodos island (SE Aegean), Greece Willdenowia 45: 261-278.
  • Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012). Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies), ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
  • Govaerts, R. & Frodin, D.G. (2002). World Checklist and Bibliography of Araceae (and Acoraceae): 1-560. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Gremmen, N. & Halbertsma, R.L. (2009). Alien plants and their impact on Tristan da Cunha 2: 1-307. Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP).
  • Haigh, A. & Boyce, P.C. (2012). Flora Zambesiaca 12(1): 1-54. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Hammel, B.E. & al. (2003). Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica 2: 1-694. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
  • Orchard, A.E. (ed.) (1994). Oceanic Islands 1 Flora of Australia 49: 1-681. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
  • Parslow, R. & Bennallick, I. (2017). The new flora of the Isles of Scilly: 1-539. Parslow Press.
  • Rosati, L. & al. (2012). Un aggiornamento alla flora del Cilento e della Campania Informatore Botanico Italiano 44: 111-119.
  • Sasikala, K., Vajravelu, E. & Daniel, P. (2019). Fascicles of Flora of India 29: 1-357. Botanical Survey of India, New Delhi.
  • Stevens, W.D., Ulloa U., C., Pool, A. & Montiel, O.M. (2001). Flora de Nicaragua Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 85: i-xlii, 1-2666.
  • Vladimirov, V., Dane, F. & Kit Tan (2013). New floristic records in the Balkans: 21 Phytologia Balcanica 19: 131-157.
  • Welsh, S.L. (1998). Flora Societensis: 1-420. E.P.S. Inc. Utah.

Literature

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia

  • ColPlantA (2021). "ColPlantA. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.colplanta.org/"

Kew Species Profiles

  • Belmont, M.A. & Metcalfe, C.D. (2003). Feasibility of using ornamental plants ( Zantedeschia aethiopica) in subsurface flow treatment wetlands to remove nitrogen, chemical oxygen demand and nonylphenol ethoxylate surfactants - a laboratory-scale study. Ecological Engineering 21: 233-247.
  • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds) (2003). Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria (Strelitzia vol. 14), p. 972.
  • Hutchings, A., Haxton Scott, A., Lewis, G. & Cunningham, A. (1996). Zulu Medicinal Plants: an Inventory. University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.
  • Letty, C. (1973). The genus Zantedeschia. Bothalia. 11: 5-26.
  • Singh, Y., van Wyk, A.E. & Baijnath, H. (1995). Know your arums: an easy guide to identify members of the genus Zantedeschia. Veld & Flora 81: 54-55.
  • South African National Biodiversity Institute's plant information website: www.plantzafrica.com
  • van Wyk, B.-E., van Oudtshoorn, B. & Gericke, N. (2009).  Medicinal Plants of South Africa.  Briza Publications, Pretoria.

CATE Araceae

  • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. 2003. Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist.
  • Letty, C. 1973. The genus Zantedeschia. Bothalia. 11: 5-26.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Barina, Z., Rakaj, m. & Pifkó, D. (2013). Contributions to the flora of Albania, 4 Willdenowia 43: 165-184.
  • Britton, N. (1918). Flora of Bermuda: 1-585. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
  • Brown, L.C. (1982). The Flora and Fauna of St Helena: 1-88. Land Resources Development Centre, Surbiton, England.
  • Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2008). Flora Iberica 18: 1-420. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid.
  • Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • El Makni, R. & Hédi El Aouni, M. (2012). Zantedeschia aethiopica (Araceae) a new species naturalised in the Northwest of Tunisia Flora Mediterranea 22: 191-196.
  • Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012). Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies), ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
  • Gremmen, N. & Halbertsma, R.L. (2009). Alien plants and their impact on Tristan da Cunha 2: 1-307. Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP).
  • Haigh, A. & Boyce, P.C. (2012). Flora Zambesiaca 12(1): 1-54. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Hammel, B.E. & al. (2003). Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica 2: 1-694. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
  • Moreira de Andrade, I. & al. (2013). The Araceae in Ceará, Brazil: humid forest plants in semi-arid region Rodriguésia; Revista do Instituto de Biologia Vegetal, Jardim Botânico e Estaçao Biologica do Itatiaya 64: 445-477.
  • Orchard, A.E. (ed.) (1994). Oceanic Islands 1 Flora of Australia 49: 1-681. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
  • Rosati, L. & al. (2012). Un aggiornamento alla flora del Cilento e della Campania Informatore Botanico Italiano 44: 111-119.
  • Sasikala, K., Vajravelu, E. & Daniel, P. (2019). Fascicles of Flora of India 29: 1-357. Botanical Survey of India, New Delhi.
  • Stevens, W.D., Ulloa U., C., Pool, A. & Montiel, O.M. (2001). Flora de Nicaragua Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 85: i-xlii, 1-2666.
  • Vladimirov, V., Dane, F. & Kit Tan (2013). New floristic records in the Balkans: 21 Phytologia Balcanica 19: 131-157.
  • Welsh, S.L. (1998). Flora Societensis: 1-420. E.P.S. Inc. Utah.

CATE Araceae
Haigh, A., Clark, B., Reynolds, L., Mayo, S.J., Croat, T.B., Lay, L., Boyce, P.C., Mora, M., Bogner, J., Sellaro, M., Wong, S.Y., Kostelac, C., Grayum, M.H., Keating, R.C., Ruckert, G., Naylor, M.F. and Hay, A., CATE Araceae, 17 Dec 2011.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Colombian resources for Plants made Accessible
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Universidad Nacional de Colombia
ColPlantA database
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0