Arum italicumin is an attractive rhizomatous perennial plant in the Aracea family, with large, arrow-shaped, glossy green leaves heavily marbled with cream. Originally native to the Mediterranean region (comprising southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East), arum italicum has now naturalised in Britain.
Despite their exotic looks these are tough plants, and are hardy to -15 degrees Celcius. They do best in dappled shade. It is also known as Italian Arum and Italian Lords-and-Ladies.
Over time Arum italicum can develop into a dense carpet that covers the ground from late autumn to mid spring. In spring pale green spathes grow well above the leaves, followed in autumn by a display of vivid red berries.
It is grown for its gorgeous foliage and can’t really be considered a ‘perennial flower’ – though they are a wonderful addition to a perennial bed, adding vital late winter/early spring interest with their lush tropical-looking variegated leaves.
Grow Arum italicum in moist but well-drained soil in shade, ideally beneath trees and shrubs. Reproduction is by division of the rootstock; divide clumps of tubers after flowering, or propagate by seed sown in autumn (seeds are obtained by removing the fleshy pulp. It also occurs as a garden escapee in the wild. (Cf Online Atlas of British and Irish Flora)
Be careful when handling arum italicum as the leaves and berries can be toxic and should never be ingested.