If Loving Arum is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Right
This post is going to have so many important disclaimers, I decided to put them first.
Disclaimer 1: Technically, everything in a state/city-owned park is owned by the state/city, and removing anything is either against the rules or outright illegal, unless you have permission, which I got from a gardener who told me I’d be doing him a favor removing the Arum since he considers it a weed (see disclaimer 2).
Disclaimer 2: The Arum genus is invasive in some places. Some gardeners curse the plant as a horrible pest. I’m not one of them.
Disclaimer 3: Arum, like most Aroids, are poisonous and contain calcium oxalate, which can irritate the skin, though I’ve never had a problem handling them.
Got all that? Okay, then.
I’ve been keeping an eye on a few clumps of Arum (probably italicum) in Buena Vista Park all year. I love their arrowhead leaves with silver lines, and their spathe/spadix flowers. I noticed them blooming way back in March. They’re a beautiful bit of the tropics here in California.
If their flowers are fertilized by flies and ground-crawling bugs, they form berries. They start out green, then turn yellow, and then finally red when they’re ripe. This is a signal for birds to come eat them, and in turn “distribute” (aka poop) the seeds elsewhere.
Buena Vista Park is where I walk my dogs, so it was easy for me to keep an eye on them. I first noticed the green berries in April, and they started turning red in late July. Four months is a long time to survive in a dog park.
When I finally saw red berries, I harvested some (see disclaimers!) and took them home to plant. Preparing Arum berries is like other Aroids, including Alocasia and Pinellia. Each berry contains a seed or two, which you have to pop out and wash. Aroid seeds aren’t viable for long, and they die once they dry out, so the quicker the better.
Once you pop the seeds out and wash them, you can plant them like any other seed. I put mine in a few pots, in normal houseplant soil, buried a quarter inch or so. If they sprout, I’ll plant them somewhere they’ll be appreciated, like my back yard, where the Buena Vista Park gardeners can’t find them.