Protected and somewhat obscured by a gardenia, an Italian Arum thrives. Though not obvious at first, it sits tucked away under the large shrub, awaiting discovery from a passer-by.
The hastate or arrow-shaped leaves of Arum italicum (Italian Arum) add textural interest this time of year. The shiny deep green leaves, accentuated by light, vein-like markings, emerged in early fall (October) and remained evergreen all winter.
The garden was new and had very little shade when this plant was first added, so the arum was sited on the northern side of the house in a narrow strip along the foundation. For a couple of years it made a nice companion plant to a large clump of hostas, filling in when the hostas died back each year. The hostas are long gone (taken by drought, not deer, surprisingly) and the now mature foundation shrubs fully occupy the slender space.
I had planned to divide the Italian Arum this year and move some into the main garden where it might be more noticeable, to create a more effective display. In researching today how to divide Italian Arum I have learned that would not be wise. Unfortunately this plant is not native, rather it comes from Africa, Asia and Europe. It is listed as invasive in some parts of the U.S., including the nearby state of Virginia. Some North Carolina gardeners report Italian Arum as extremely difficult to eradicate and warn against planting it.
So this started out as a post about the surprise of coming upon a lovely and unusual plant such as Arum Italicum in the garden. It was supposed to end this way:
The arum certainly is fun where it exists now, lending that element of the unexpected. Walking by its hiding place, missing it at first, then glimpsing it at last and noticing its amazing surprise of shape and pattern, one is reminded of the joy plants can bring.
Arum Italicum (Italian Arum) held an even bigger garden surprise than I knew. This plant has always behaved well in this garden but if its seeds can spread and cause problems, I will have to seek some expert help for clarification and advice.
Meanwhile at least Arum Italicum did provide an opportunity to learn the word hastate:
Hastate, spear-shaped (hastata): Pointed, with barbs, shaped like a spear point, with flaring pointed lobes at the base
“Leaf shape.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. Dec 2011. Web. 1 Feb 2012.