Arum italicum

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

I bought some Arum italicum before looking it up... I didn't realize it was invasive... before I make a huge mistake by planting this I wanted some opinions from anyone that lives in zone 6 .... does it really spread here the way it does in the warmer zones?

you guys have to help me decide if I plant them or ship them back


Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi Onewish, I can't answer for invasiveness as I yanked up everyone I could from my containers this past spring. If you have young pumpkins or pets they're toxic. Plus the plants contain irritants when touched and actually have chemical glass like shards that cuts the skin as mine did upon removal( with gloves on) I too had ordered them because they looked "soo pretty" ...My neighbor gets the credit for warning me before they bore fruit to spread.

Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Onewish, I used to pick plantsjust because I liked the way they looked. I did not know anything about them. Fortunately almost nothing I've ever planted lived. I'm going to have a lot of cleared land by next Spring on which to plant things. I want to avoid invasives and even aggressives. DG is my source for how to chose the plants. Natives seem safe for me, though I may try some flowering plants and flowers that are not native to my area or [treading gingerly] maybe some non-native plants that have been around long enough to know they have a natural history on non-invasiveness.

I believe Denville is in Cape May County (?) There are native plant societies there as well as Rutgers research projects for your area. Locate, either by calling your county or looking in the phone book or googling on the internet, the Native Plant Society there. I would expect them to be pleased to share everything they know and help you make selections for your needs, even if you don't want strictly native. (They also sell native plants once or twice a year.) Don't rely on retailers with either box stores or on the internet for helping you choose the best plant for what you need. If you choose an invasive plant that they want to sell, they won't tell you not to buy it because it's invasive. They are also generally less informed about what native or non-invasive non-native alternatives there are that would suit your purposes.

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

I am in Morris County up in nothern part.... but thank you both for the replies

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

well I made a decision, not to plant this. I did contact a few local groups and asked them what they thought. One group answered back to only plant natives, and it's not on our invasive list, but that can change. I am shocked the site I bought it from didn't even have it listed as invasive. I asked for a return, thank you once again daves garden!!

Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

onewish1, the only nursery site I've seen so far that cautions about invasive potentials is LazyS. It tells the buyers (nicely) that they need to be responsible for what they plant and they should check on invasiveness - and it gives links so you can check!

It sells invasives as it seems almost every nursery does (it must be a commercial necessity), but I really appreciate the people there recognizing that buyers might be educable. It also identifies which plants are native (to the US) and gives flattering descriptions. I have the impression when I read there that LazyS is gently stating a bias toward natives so that typical gardeners, or non-gardners like me, won't be so quick to pick a Burning Bush because of the Fall color when there are non-invasive natives that are just as pretty in the Fall.

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

I also like lazy s and garden crossings is another fav.... very nice customer service also

live and learn..... i am going to check everything from now on.... I looked up some of the seeds I picked out.. there are a few I am not even going to bother with now

amazing they can create such an impact on an area... and not have to warn us newbies

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Onewish1- you are not alone! When I went to my Mom's house this past summer, to dig up her old favorites for a memory garden, I wanted a piece of that Black Knight Butterfly bush so bad... Had just reseached it before my visit, yep, it too was invasive. It started out as a small twig from the nursery. It now covers the entire NW corner of their yard. It looks like 100 bushes there. And only in 5 years since planted! :~(

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

if you dead head before it turns to seed it won't spread.... or at least that's what i read

my boyfriends mom had them for years... she always cuts off the dead blooms and never had a problem with it spreading....

well i hope it holds true ... i have a lilac colored one.... will find out soon enough

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

I hope that's true, my Mom really loved that butterfly bush! I know my Dad won't remove anything out of the garden, so it will be there growing full speed ahead. when I visit him. Let me know how yours perform with the deadheading. The memory garden just might have to have it and live with the deadheading factor.

Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

It's not just a problem with Buterfly Bush spreading too much in your own yard. Do a search here. There is a lot of information.

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Notgrnjean...sheeeeesh, you know I just had to read the info and data files from several universities holding out a thin veil of hope for the desired butterfly bush before I responded any further! :0) Point well taken, I don't want colonies of my butterfly bush all over my neighborhood, nearby farms and definitely not growing alongside the creek behind my house... I'll be a responsible gardener then, lest the plant police shows up in my garden!

Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

garden6, I am both a poor gardener and want to be a responsible one. I am so glad I found this site and learn not just from here but also (from learning here) to always do a thorough net search.

I may end up just admiring my bare dirt and broadcasting corn gluten meal over it to keep it bare! Not really of course, but I don't want to plant anything invasive, and I am shocked at how many plants familiar to me and sold in all the nurseries and chain stores are invasives.

Try posting a new thread on the Gardening for Wildlife forum asking for alternatives to Butterfly Bush. I think you'll get many responses that can ease your withdrawal. :)

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Yeah, but it wont be from my dear Mom's garden! Everytime I go home( since she went home last Spring) I take something from her gardens, for our memory garden here. It's really nurturing and healing for me and the pumpkins. They see Grandma's flowers in their memory garden and know it was something that she grew and loved. I'll just admire when I visit, I know my dad will not get rid of it, invasive or not! It could throw daggers at every living person that comes nearby and my Dad will not part with it! He will not even trim it, it's scent and blooms screams of my Mom's love for her gardens!

Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Ah, well... I think that Butterfly Bush qualifies for an exemption. That's not like going out to get new ones for landscaping.

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

I totally understand garden6...... all the plants I put in my yard remind me growing up and visiting my aunt... she had a wonderful backyard

my neighbor says he cuts his down to the ground in spring and it stops the trunk from becoming too heavy... his was 7 foot tall but the trunk wasn't huge....

this is the first year of bloom on mine... i was deadheading all summer and it just kept putting out more and getting fatter.... granted I just planted it last fall and it's only about 3 1/2 foot tall.. tons of blooms though... and it just keeps putting them out .. doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon..... there are at least a dozen new ones starting today.... when i cut the blooms off i just tossed them in the trash... just in case they had some seed in them


Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the exemption... Our memory gardens reflects the love of my Mom that is always in my heart. When my pumpkins see the yellow roses blooming in our garden, they remember how she let them cut her yellow roses and placed them in vases in her house. That butterfly bush paints vivid images of my pumpkins dancing with butterflies in her yard. Don't want to contribute to invasiveness, but that Black Knight beckons to come home to my memory garden everytime I go home. I might just have to take the exemption and bring it home....Yet if I can justify planting an invasive plant and a hundred of my neighbors justify planting invasives then our lovely creek may not be the same in a number of years and I may be cursing their ichoice of nvasives in my garden. :`(

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

I think you are being too hard on yourself.... that bush isn't as terrible as you think

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Thanks onewish :0)

Cincinnati, OH

Geesh, I always wanted one of these(arum itailicum), and now, I don't know what to do.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Arum italicum is NOT invasive. Plant away!

It is a bulb that will multiply, but it stays in a clump. You will have lots of time to prevent seeding because the seed takes so long to mature. Even then, it is NOT invasive. You can even leave them on the stalk to enjoy as they turn red, starting at the bottom and going up.

It will spread *gently* like anything else if you just leave the seed heads on the stalk. But--it doesn't throw it's seeds--way too heavy and in a pulpy fruit anywho. They would just sprout where they fall.

You can also grow it in containers if you are not convinced yet. ;-)

It leafs out in the fall, blooms in the spring, dies down except for the fruiting spike--if it gets fertilized, and is gone for the summer.

Try it!!!


Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

hhhhmmm do you think the chipmunks and others can spread the seeds? We are overloaded with them... Might do a container.... thanks for the info

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

I have chipunks (and voles and rabbits, too) and they've never touched the fruits or the tubers. They've around my little clump but have never disturbed them directly. I haven't seen one come up anywhere else in the area. I had only one spike of fruits this year from a good showing of flowers, and I harvested all the fruits myself as they ripened.

The tubers are toxic to humans (until "properly prepared", I hear) due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals, but don't know how chipmunks might react to the raw tuber. Haven't heard anything about the fruits.


Arum italicum is already identified as being invasive in the State of Oregon and it is on the watch list for the Carolinas. I suspect it will get added once more research is completed. Research takes time and money.

A few comments from others who have dealt with this plant here-

Although the plant is toxic to humans, it isn't toxic to birds. Birds are the primary dispersal mechanism to natural areas for this plant although the the tubers can also become an issue.

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

thank you once again for the info.... the reason I posted this question was from the comments on DG about the arum.... carolina is close enough to my zone for me to really think about this... and to return it

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

The DG entry is a little confusing. Applying the common name "Lords and ladies" to italicum makes me wonder is another species is actually causing all the trouble in California since none of the three giving "negative" ratings supplied supporting pictures.

The two links also point to Arum maculatum, not italicum.

This message was edited Oct 1, 2006 11:25 PM

I see what you mean, they are actually more than just a little bit confusing. At the first link, scroll down past where A. maculatum was listed to Watch List A. A. italicum will appear listed by it's Latin name as well as by its common name on that chart.

Here's a link to A. italicum's invasiveness in Oregon and I've heard it might be added as invasive to Washington but most states seem rather slow to respond and it's almost as if they don't do so until the cat is already out of the bag-

If you take a peek at this link, you will see that introduced Arum italicum is already documented as having naturalized in 6 States and my State (zone 6 on up to a zone 4- not a good sign that it is naturalizing in a midwestern State) is one of them as is California-
This map is somewhat dated and probably would include a few more states if more research regarding A. italicum's invasiveness was being published.

The Bricksfield link is defintiely confusing because it refers to A. italicum as a related plant but the last link to earthnotes does come right out and state that, "Italian Arum is derived from A. Italicum and possesses the same poisonous properties" as A. maculatum.

the roots are scratched up and eaten by thrushes in severe snowy seasons and the berries are eaten by several kinds of birds and particularly pheasants.
Birds will eat the berries of both A. maculatum and A. italicum.

Basically, Birds have different digestive systems than we humans. Some things that are not poisonous to us such as avocados, chocolate beans, and coffee beans can be fatal to birds just as the reverse holds true in that there are some things they can eat that can prove fatal to us. Evidently Arum spp. berries would be one of the things they can eat that we can't eat.

Here's where it gets really wild, many seeds that birds eat are pooped out in ready made fertilizer packs. I read this was not necessarily so with Arum spp. as they evidently have no protection from being digested. Allegedly, Arum is dispersed by birds that eat it and small mammals because they have a sticky pulp and therefore literally stick to the critters and drop off of their beaks and fur when the critters groom themselves where they will then germinate. Fox was one of the critters also responsible for the dispersal of Arum spp.

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

here is the fact sheet I recieved from the place..... of the one I was going to buy

Common Name

Arum italicum

Botanical Name

Arum italicum 'Marmoratum'

Product Category





4 - 9 (-30 F.)

Mature Height

10-15 inches


Herbaceous perennial

Sun /shade Pref

Partial shade

Soil Pref

Well-drained, very fertile, damp


Spike 12 inches high


Creamy green


Late spring for 2-4 weeks


Red berries, fruit in the fall


Evergreen in the winter; dies in summer

Planting Depth

5-6 inches deep with pinkish 'eye' up


15 inches

Growth Rate

Will grow to full height and bloom the first season


North of zone 6B, grow in a container. Use summer mulch to conserve moisture. If grown in containers, use a mix of equal parts potting soil, peat moss, and sand or vermiculite. In ground, mix in a lot of peat moss or compost. Leaves are green in the winter. In the spring, a calla-like 'cup' appears with a tall flower spike in the center. The spike turns to red fruit in the fall.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Equilibrium wrote:
"Some things that are not poisonous to us such as avocados, chocolate beans, and coffee beans can be fatal to birds..."

Wow! Never heard that. Actually I have never heard of anything that birds should avoid. Thanks. One would hope that nature would have them find those toxic plants somehow unappealing and would naturally avoid them. I could see that not happening in times where they have little of their preferred foods available.

I looked at the map where italicum is listed as invasive in Oregon. It seems to be establishing itself well on the west coast. I would think it would likely be a problem anywhere there is lots of fall and winter wet. It would no doubt love those Pacific Northwest regions whose winter mildness is good for mediterranian plants and bulbs.

Here in 7b, it can falter a bit in January when the coldest winter temps occur, but it keeps its foliage and spring back when temps go back up.

Look at this picture:

The heading says Arum maculatum, but the pic is Arum italicum.
But not to minimize the toxicity of either. Just the wrong species is pictured!

Yes, both of these are worth keeping an eye on. I have to keep re-reading what "invasive" means and whether that is always a bad thing. I would consider a lot of our native plants "invasive" by some definitions (save the non-indigenous part), at least as far as my yard goes.


This message was edited Oct 2, 2006 2:39 PM

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Uhmm...arum italicum...nooo thanks! ;0) Having girly pumpkins, who still play mudpies and salads...nooo way!! ;0)

Federal Way, WA(Zone 8b)

Here's my Arum Italicum story --

I tried and tried to discern whether these plants were really dangerous for our region (Seattle/Tacoma area - Zone 8b), and didn't find anything conclusive. I had purchased a bunch of the bulbs, thinking it would be so wonderful to plant them in the shade of our Chinese Dogwood, where the soil is quite loamy and nice, but it's hard to get anything to grow. There's a sprinkler system, so it's quite damp. I also purchased a few Houttuynia plants (which haven't arrived yet), which are incredibly gorgeous, and touted to grow really well in the shade.

So...the weekend before Halloween, I finally decided that I should go ahead and plant the little buggers. Sunday morning I was out there bright and early, planting all 25 of the puppy-poop shaped bulbs! Later that day, after it was dark, I went into the house and discovered the Pacific Northwest magazine that came with the newspaper. I thumbed through it for a moment, only to discover an article titled "So Pretty, So Scary!" Both the Arum Italicum and the Houttuynia were featured in the article, and it was quite clear that I had made very serious mistake! I was horrified!!

I was way too tired and wet and cold (we had a surprise cold snap that took us uncharacteristically low--into the 20s-- that week), so I waited until after work on Monday. My husband went out with me, and by the light of his flashlight, I attempted to retrieve all 25 of the bulbs. Fortunately I had marked the spots with toothpicks, although it was still hard to find them, and naturally the markers were never right on the spot, so it took a lot of digging. We worked for a couple of hours and managed to unplant 21 of the offending bulbs. I don't know where the other four are, and am terrified that I have unleashed monsters in my garden come spring.

I really want to grow the little demon plants in containers, but am afraid that I don't really have a grip on how they spread. Some of the things I've read indicated that the A. Italicum CAN spread from seed, but does so very slowly, even unreliably. One lady on this forum said she grows the Houttanuyia only in a hanging basket!

Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Eeeew, shultman. I hope you are able to achieve a full extraction. Good thing you saw that article now instead of next year!

Your husband sounds like a keeper.

No need to panic. You know what they look like and you will spot them when they come up next spring.

Personally, I wouldn't plant them anywhere not even in a hanging pot because of their "alleged" dispersal method which is this,

Allegedly, Arum is dispersed by birds that eat it and small mammals because they have a sticky pulp and therefore literally stick to the critters and drop off of their beaks and fur when the critters groom themselves where they will then germinate. Fox was one of the critters also responsible for the dispersal of Arum spp.
Think beggars ticks or cockleburs and that might help. Have you ever been out and about and come home coated with any of these? They're sticky; they stick to fur, feather, and clothing. Appears birds (that can land just about anywhere to dine to include the rim of a hanging basket) are the primary dispersal method.

If you have any interest in returning them, you might want to enclose a copy of the article you received and simply ask for a refund. See what happens.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

I would just deadhead them.


Federal Way, WA(Zone 8b)

Well, Robert, that is no doubt good advice, but I was more excited by the prospect of bright orange clumps of berries in the shade of my tree than the pale, waxy-looking flowers. Would I have to deadhead them before the berries appear?


Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Well, if you want to enjoy the berries, you will have to let them form and if they form they can be dispersed by birds and animals and if you are concerned about invasiveness then you know what that means........You'll have plenty of time to remove them as it takes all season for the fruits to ripen and turn orange.

If they are potted, you could possibly grow them so that animals can't get to the ripe fruits. You could move them to a protected area as they begin to turn orange and enjoy them and when the clusters begin to go over, pick them and send them to me. ;-)

I think they are worth growing for the foliage alone, but the unusual blooms *are* appealling and the bonus of the bright orange fruits just extends their long season of beauty.

You'll just have to decide what you want to do. In the pacific NW, "the possibility of invasiveness has been reported"......but here in piedmont of NC, it isn't likely.

Sacrifice your full enjoyment for partial pleasure by dead-heading? It's up to you.

Here's what I have decided to sacrifice this next season: purple coneflower. (Echinacea sp.) I'll still have them in the garden, of course, but I have always had to battle flea beetles (I think that's the culprit) who eat the pink rays before they even form. So, this year, I'm not going to spray them just so I can enjoy them.

Why not just remove them entirely? The goldfinches love the seeds, so I'll still grow them . I'm just not going to try to kill off the flea beetles with insecticides. There are too many beneficial insects that might be endangered (especially one of my fave's, the praying mantis) by trying to control the beetles.


Say raydio, would you be interested in testing out a trap crop of radishes for your Phyllotreta spp.? Maybe that might bring some relief?

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Where do I find out more about that? I'm sure willing to lure the l'il buggers away from the coneflowers!


I was gone for about a week and things piled up to the extent that I began deleting with wild abandon. I'm really sorry but I merely skimmed that article. Try a basic google search for Phyllotreta + trap + crop and see what turns up. Meanwhile, lemme go back to my trash can and see if it's still there. Be back.

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