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Italian Lords-and-Ladies

Arum italicum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Araceae (Arum)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, riverbanks, waterside, woodland.

Green, 1 petal
A cylindrical structure called a spadix. Inside the spadix is purplish-green tinged membranous hood called a spathe. Similar looking to Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum) but that flower has a purplish-brown spadix.
Orangish-red berries from July to October.
The large, waxy, arrow-shaped leaves are usually (but not always) marked with pale yellow or white veins giving them a marbled appearance. Perennial.
Other Names:
Italian Arum, Italian Cuckoopint, Large Cuckoo Pint, Orange Candleflower, Rare Lords-and-Ladies.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Arum italicum, also known as Italian arum or Italian lords-and-ladies, is a herbaceous perennial plant that is native to Southern Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is known for its striking, hooded flowers and large, arrow-shaped leaves, as well as its distinctive red berries. The plant grows in damp, shady places and is often found in woodlands, along stream banks, and in other damp, shady places. It is considered poisonous due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals. It is also commonly used as an ornamental plant, its large leaves and showy flowers are attractive features in gardens. As with Arum maculatum, it's not recommended to ingest or use it as home remedies because of its toxic properties.


Italian Lords and Ladies, or Arum italicum, are a fascinating plant species that has captured the attention of gardeners and nature enthusiasts around the world. These plants are native to the Mediterranean region and are commonly found in Italy, hence their name. They are also known as Italian arum, Italian cuckoo pint, or simply, Lords and Ladies.

Arum italicum is a member of the Araceae family and is an evergreen plant that typically grows to be around 40-60 cm tall. The plant has glossy green leaves that are arrow-shaped, with white or silver markings. In the spring, the plant produces a unique flower structure that is called a spadix. The spadix is a small, cylindrical structure that is surrounded by a large, colorful bract, which can be green, yellow, or purple.

One of the most interesting things about Italian Lords and Ladies is that they have a unique pollination strategy. The flowers produce a foul odor that attracts flies and other insects, which then pollinate the plant. While this may not be appealing to humans, it is an effective way for the plant to reproduce and ensure the continuation of its species.

In addition to their interesting biology, Italian Lords and Ladies also have a rich cultural history. In ancient times, the plant was used for medicinal purposes and was believed to have healing properties. It was also used in pagan rituals and was associated with fertility and rebirth.

Today, Italian Lords and Ladies are primarily grown for ornamental purposes. They are a popular choice for gardens and landscapes, thanks to their unique appearance and low maintenance requirements. The plant is also known to be relatively resistant to pests and diseases, which makes it an ideal choice for those who want a beautiful and reliable garden plant.

If you are interested in growing Italian Lords and Ladies, there are a few things to keep in mind. These plants prefer moist, well-drained soil and partial shade, although they can tolerate full sun in cooler climates. They should be watered regularly, especially during the summer months, and fertilized occasionally to promote healthy growth.

Italian Lords and Ladies are also known for their ability to thrive in a wide range of environments. They can grow in sandy soils, clay soils, and even in rocky areas. This makes them a popular choice for landscaping and gardening projects, as they can adapt to different soil conditions.

One of the most striking features of Italian Lords and Ladies is their foliage. The glossy green leaves with white or silver markings provide an eye-catching contrast in any garden or landscape. In the fall, the leaves turn a deep red or purple, adding another layer of visual interest.

Another interesting fact about Italian Lords and Ladies is that they have been used for culinary purposes in some regions of Italy. The plant's underground corms can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable, although they are known to have a slightly bitter taste. In some cases, the corms are also used to make flour for bread and other baked goods.

Despite their many benefits, Italian Lords and Ladies can be toxic to humans and pets if ingested. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and swelling in the mouth and throat. It is important to handle the plant with care and keep it out of reach of children and pets.

In addition to their ornamental and culinary uses, Italian Lords and Ladies have also been used for medicinal purposes. The plant contains compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects, making it a potential treatment for conditions such as arthritis and asthma. However, more research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of these compounds.

Italian Lords and Ladies are also valued for their role in the ecosystem. The foul odor produced by the plant's flowers attracts flies and other insects, which in turn attract predators such as birds and bats. This helps to maintain a balance in the local ecosystem and promotes biodiversity.

Finally, Italian Lords and Ladies have a strong cultural significance in Italy and other Mediterranean countries. In some regions, the plant is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. It is also associated with the celebration of spring and the renewal of life.

Overall, Italian Lords and Ladies are a fascinating and versatile plant species that offer a range of benefits for gardeners, nature enthusiasts, and researchers alike. Whether you are interested in the plant's biology, cultural significance, or practical applications, there is much to discover and appreciate about this unique and beautiful plant.


Italian Lords-and-Ladies filmed in Adlington, Lancashire on the 15th January 2023, and Lancaster, Lancashire on the 15th May 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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