Zantedeschia aethiopica (arum lily)
Zantedeschia aethiopica (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)
arum lily, calla lily
Not of conservation concern.
Marshy places in Southern Africa.
All parts of the plant are poisonous, causing irritation and swelling of the mouth and acute gastric diarrhoea.
About this species
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.
This very attractive plant has been known to European horticulture since at least the 1660s. 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.