Arum pictum is a low-growing, autumn-flowering arum with beautiful, shiny leaves and a purple spathe.
Arum pictum L.f.
No specific threats are known, although the Mediterranean coastal habitat is being reduced as a result of urban development.
Mediterranean scrubland; often under Pinus halepensis.
None known, although related species of Arum are poisonous.
About this species
Arum pictum is unique in the genus Arum in its autumn-flowering, and in this respect, as well as in its horse dung-like scent, resembles members of the related genus Biarum. The shiny, purplish and silver leaves are very beautiful, and persist through the winter.
Geography and distribution
Native to Majorca (Mallorca), Minorca, Corsica, Sardinia and the west coast of central Italy.
Overview: A winter-growing herb with a whitish tuber 5–7 cm across.
Leaves: The arrow-head-shaped leaves are about 30 cm long and 15 cm wide. At first they are shiny and purplish, later becoming silvery or whitish.
Flowers: The flowering stem (spadix) appears with or before the leaves, and smells strongly of horse dung. The spadix is 8–13 cm long, the appendage stout, cylindrical and purplish-black. The sheathing bract (spathe) is 9–19 cm long, 4–6.5 cm wide, greenish on the outside, deep, velvety purple-brown on the inside, with a mottled, greenish tip, and is slightly hooded. Three whorls of organs are found at the base of the spadix and enclosed in the folded spathe: the uppermost is a whorl of bristly staminodes (sterile stamens); in the middle there is a large cluster of small, male flowers; beneath there is a cluster of larger, female flowers.
Fruits: The fruits, which are red when ripe, are berries 5–11 mm long.
Threats and conservation
The habitat of Arum pictum, like that of all Mediterranean coastal plants, is under pressure as a result of spreading urban development, particularly building for tourism.
Arum pictum is cultivated as an ornamental.
Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, 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 Kew's seed bank vault at Wakehurst.
Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: Three
Arum pictum is easily grown in a large pot. It should be kept dry in the summer, and watered in the winter (until May).
This species at Kew
Arum pictum is grown in the Rock Garden at Kew and may also be on display in the Davies Alpine House when it is flowering (October).
Pressed and dried specimens of Arum pictum are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.
Curtis's Botanical Magazine
Curtis's Botanical Magazine (Editor: Martyn Rix) provides an international forum of particular interest to botanists and horticulturists, plant ecologists and those with a special interest in botanical illustration.
Now well over 200 years old, the Magazine is the longest running botanical periodical featuring colour illustrations of plants. Each four-part volume contains 24 plant portraits reproduced from watercolour originals by leading international botanical artists. Detailed but accessible articles combine horticultural and botanical information, history, conservation and economic uses of the plants described.
Published for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew by Blackwell Publishing.
Boyce, P. (1988). Arum pictum. Curtis’s Bot. Mag. 5: 72-76.
Boyce, P. (1993). The Genus Arum. Kew Magazine Monograph, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2010). The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (Accessed 25 May 2011). Available online.
Kew Science Editor: Martyn Rix
Kew contributors: Steve Davis (Sustainable Uses Group)
Copyediting: Emma Tredwell
While every effort has been taken to ensure that the information contained in these pages is reliable and complete, the notes on hazards, edibility and suchlike included here are recorded information and do not constitute recommendations. No responsibility will be taken for readers’ own actions.