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Arum pictum

October 2, 2018
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Scientific name: Arum pictum
Common name:
Family: Araceae
Origin: Mediterranean

Arum pictum is unique within its genus as it flowers at the start of its growing period in autumn. It comes from the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia and Tuscany, Italy.


The genus Arum consists of 25 species of tuberous perennial plants. All have the same basic morphological characteristics of a spathe (the sail-like structure) and a spadix (the erect, cylindrical structure sticking up inside the spathe). These sit atop a peduncle (flower stem) with leaves arising from the base.

An overwhelming feature of this plant is the foul odour emitted from within the spathe. The smell is used to attract pollinating insects. It is thought that as this type of Arum has its inflorescence near the ground amongst scrubby undergrowth, that an attractive odour is more productive than a completely visible one. (The pollinators are dung-breeding and carrion breeding insects.)

If the displeasing smell hasn’t deterred growers, the attractive foliage alone is a good reason to grow this species. Peter Boyce describes this species well: ‘On first emerging (the leaves) are deep, shiny, metallic green… As the leaf expands… The main and lateral veins become slightly paler. As the season progresses the blade loses its sheen but the veins continue to lighten until spring, when they stand out as a creamy white to silvery network.’ (The Genus Arum, 1993).

How to grow

Originating in a Mediterranean climate, A. pictum needs protection from winter wet in cultivation. Therefore try growing it in a pot or in a sunny, well-drained position outdoors.


Propagation from seed is straightforward. Division of the tuber is just as easy, use the amply provided off-sets.

In the late 1990s, I received a plant from the late Primrose Warburg originating from Majorca. The silvery-white network of leaf veins were already fully apparent at the outset of growth. Even in late autumn, they retained their shiny, metallic green gloss. This made it stand out from other clones so I named it Arum pictum ‘Primrose Warburg’ in honour of the plantswoman who grew so many fine plants in her garden at ‘South Hayes.

A grower’s experience