Zantedeschia aethiopica

Zantedeschia aethiopica is found in usually seasonally damp places in a wide range of the winter rainfall area. Known as Arum lilies or Calla lilies in different parts of the world, they are a popular cut flower which can be fragrant. This species has naturalized along the Northern California coast and is found in many places, including abandoned homesteads, blooming in spring. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner show some of the naturalized plants including a clump at Salt Point State Park.

Zantedeschia aethiopica, Mary Sue IttnerZantedeschia aethiopica, Mary Sue IttnerZantedeschia aethiopica, Salt Point Park, Mary Sue Ittner

Habitat pictures taken by Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller near Brackenfell, in the Cederberg, and near Tulbagh 2006.

Zantedeschia aethiopica, Brackenfell, Mary Sue IttnerZantedeschia aethiopica, Cederberg, Bob RutemoellerZantedeschia aethiopica, Tulbagh, Bob Rutemoeller

'Child's Perfection' (syn. 'Childsiana') is a dwarf selection of Zantedeschia aethiopica that grows to about 18 inches (0.5 m) tall in moist soil and partial shade. The arachnids on the flowers in the second photo are Opiliones, commonly called harvestmen or daddy-long-legs. Photos taken May 2007 by Jay Yourch.

Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Child's Perfection', Jay YourchZantedeschia aethiopica 'Child's Perfection', Jay YourchZantedeschia aethiopica 'Child's Perfection', Jay Yourch

'Green Goddess' is a variety with green tipped leaves. Photo from Janos Agoston.

Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Green Goddess', Janos Agoston

'Rod's Red' is a selection from Rod Saunders in South Africa. Photo by Mary Sue Ittner.

Zantedeschia aethiopica, Rod's Red, Mary Sue Ittner

'White Giant' is a huge selection of Zantedeschia aethiopica with spotted foliage up to about 48 inches (1.2 m) tall and flower spikes up to 72 inches (1.8 m) tall. Photos taken June 2009 by Jay Yourch.

Zantedeschia aethiopica 'White Giant', Jay YourchZantedeschia aethiopica 'White Giant', Jay Yourch

Plants exhibit guttation. Guttation (from the latin gutta - speck, spot or drop) is the production of water droplets from plant leaves. The time lapse video by David Pilling shows a leaf tip of Zantedeschia aethiopica for about six hours (one frame every 50 seconds) after the plant was put in a pot of water.

Photographs by David Pilling. The first two show the roots; it is easy to remove a section and grow a new plant. The last photo shows developing flowers.

Zantedeschia aethiopica roots, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica roots, David PillingZantedeschia flowers, 20th June 2013, David Pilling

The next two photos show the base of the spadix; the white objects are female flowers (the genus is monoecious with separate male and female flowers). The white material near the top of the spadix is pollen which emerges from the male flowers and forms strings; the last photograph is about 0.5 mm wide. As the pollen is removed more appears to replace it. The pollen photos are of the same flower as the first two photos but a week later, showing how the spadix color changes.

Zantedeschia aethiopica female flowers, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica female flowers, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica pollen, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica pollen, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica pollen, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica pollen, David Pilling

When pollinated each of the female flowers will produce a seed pod; their development can be seen in the photographs. What looks like a large white petal is a bract (modified leaf), as the seeds develop it partially dies back and wraps around the seeds protecting them as captured in the second photo. The last two photos show the seed head ripening; the coin is around an inch in diameter.

Zantedeschia aethiopica, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica seed head, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica seed head, David Pilling

Photos of seed pods, a seed pod and the seed it contained, and washed seed; all on a 10 mm grid. Fifty seed pods were produced from the seed head shown above. Photograph four shows how the seeds are packed in a seed pod.

Zantedeschia aethiopica seed pods, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica seeds and seed pod, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica seeds, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica seeds, David Pilling

Some of the seeds in the first three photographs above were put in a zip seal bag with moist kitchen paper on the 8th October 2012, kept at room temperature 65-70 °F and started to germinate on the 6th November; the final photo shows the seedlings in a 2" square pot on the 4th December.

Zantedeschia aethiopica germinating seeds, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica germinating seeds, David PillingZantedeschia aethiopica seedlings, David Pilling

Almost all the photos in this section are of the same flower stem, they cover a period from the first of June until the seeds were ripe at the start of October.

The time it takes to get a flowering plant from seed varies, with a sufficiently vigorous seedling in ideal conditions it is possible in as little as six months; other specimens may take a few years. A factor is if the plants can be kept growing through the winter; foliage is very sensitive to frost and will easily be killed, the roots can also be killed by frost.

28.08.2013 - 03:14  

Philip Turner (Romiley, England)

My mother was given a Zantedeschia plant last week. Half an hour after I watered it, I noticed droplets of water forming on the tips of some of the leaves! I have had to put it on a tray to catch the puddles that it makes.

28.08.2013 - 07:57  

David Pilling (Blackpool, England)

Philip - that is interesting. Pointy things can provide nucleation sites for condensation. I have seen droplets when growing Zantedeschia seedlings maybe in plastic bags (high humidity) but never noticed it on large specimens in the garden.

28.08.2013 - 08:52  

Michael Mace (San Jose, CA, USA)

That is indeed interesting, Philip. I don't grow Zantedeschia, but on some of my other bulbs I've noticed droplets of water that form at the leaf tips after I water them. I've never been sure if it was caused by condensation or by the plant pulling up so much water that it forms a droplet at the leaf tip. I don't know enough about the physics of water to know if that's even possible, but it looks like that's what happens.

29.08.2013 - 07:46  

Philip Turner (Romiley, England)

I'd expect condensation to form on all of the leaves rather than just some of them. Capillary action in a plant is strong enough to move water from the roots to the very tips of the leaves to keep them hydrated. The Zantedeschia leaf tips look like they end in miniature hypodermic needles. I have put a picture of the plant in question on my website here:

Zantedeschia 'puddle plant', Philip Turner

29.08.2013 - 08:02  

David Pilling (Blackpool, England)

Philip - thanks for the photo, makes it clearer. Since the tips of the leaves are not the highest point, there can be a 'syphonic' action - gravity pulling the water out. Maybe you could tell us the name of the plant - it is just off the edge of the photo.

29.08.2013 - 08:37  

Philip Turner (Romiley, England)

All it says on the label is Zantedescia White Ceramic (which refers to the pot it's in). I'm not sure of the variety. The trumpet-like flowers look like modified leaves: they are green on the outside and whitish green inside. The pot has no drainage holes and it's almost as if the plant has learnt to expel water if there's too much in the pot!

29.08.2013 - 09:12  

David Pilling (Blackpool, England)

Thanks Philip. Probably a hybrid, there are lots. Seems to have spotty leaves like Zantedeschia albomaculata (see above). Some plants are good at getting rid of excess water. Many Zantedeschias grow naturally in marshy conditions, so it may be happy with poor drainage.

30.08.2013 - 03:16  

Philip Turner (Romiley)

Some of the leaves go straight up then do a right-angle curve to flatten out at the top, so water droplets at the end of them are likely to be formed as a result of capillary action rather than condensation or a siphon effect. The closest I have seen to the flowers is "Green Goddess" (above). This is what our flowers look like:

Zantedeschia 'puddle plant', Philip Turner

30.08.2013 - 04:47  

David Pilling (Blackpool, England)

Philip - I have an idea, I've got a pot of small Zatedeschia I'm going to stand them in water and see what happens. I've taken the liberty of adding your droplet photo to the PBS web space. I'd like to do that with your new photo. Please let me know if you're not happy about this. You can reach me privately via the Contact link at the top of the page.

30.08.2013 - 05:55  

David Pilling (Blackpool, England)

I found this: "The leaves of the arum lily contain water stomata, which can discharge water by a process known as - 'guttation', this prevents water - logging, and enables the plants to grow in wet conditions" [1] Whilst standing my plants in water, I did notice what sharp points they have on the tips of the leaves. Other plants exhibit the same phenomena.


30.08.2013 - 07:16  

Philip Turner (Romiley)

David's link is very interesting. The prevention of water-logging seems a weak argument for plants growing outdoors. Surely, the water dripping from the leaf tips would leave the ground the plant is growing in just as boggy? I'm now thinking of surrounding our Zantedeschia with other plants, watering just the Zantedeschia and letting the drips water the other plants!

30.08.2013 - 07:39  

David Pilling (Blackpool, England)

Getting the water on the leaf tips gives it more chance to evaporate, blown away by the wind if you like. All plants are in the business of 'transpiration' some better than others. Controlling moisture in potting media is one of the big challenges of growing things. I wonder if 'companion' planting might be a way of doing this. One just needs to discover which plants can maintain various moisture levels.

30.08.2013 - 09:21  

David Pilling (Blackpool, England)

After four hours in a saucer of water my Zantedeschia aethiopica has water droplets on the ends of the leafs.

Zantedeschia aethiopica guttation 30th August 2013, David Pilling

31.08.2013 - 06:23  

Philip Turner (Romiley)

It looks like there's scope for an investigation of "Hydraulic engineering with Zantedeschia plants": working out how much water different varieties can transport, how evaporation rates compare to dripping according to ambient temperature, humidity and wind speed, and how many plants are needed to dry out soil of a given sogginess. Some lucky person could spend 3 busy years doing a Ph.D. thesis.

30.08.2014 - 16:14  

Fabian Fajardo (CRC)

I am studying plant and couldn`t find type of leaves of each ones

31.08.2014 - 04:57  

David Pilling (Blackpool, UK)

13.06.2015 - 01:51  

Angie Shipton (Derbyshire England)

We have 3 Zandedeschia plants indoor (Siberia) and (Picasso) and all 3 have the same dripping effect from tips of flowers to tips of leaves even two days after being watered.

15.11.2016 - 13:32  

David Geiger (Provincetown, MA)

Why do you not have info on Zantedeschia albomaculata listed?

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