Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Calla palustris

Water arum, Water-dragon, Wild calla

Araceae (Arum Family)

Calla palustris (Water arum)
Smith, R.W.
The 5-10 in. water-dragon or wild calla has fleshy, jointed stalks and heart-shaped leaves on upright stems. The flowers are white with a hint of green, on a round spadix. Growing in water among oblong heart-shaped leaves, is a broad white spathe around a spadix covered with tiny yellow flowers. A bright white, elliptic spathe partially surrounds the spadix. The spathe/spadix is held on a 4-5 in. stem above forking, creeping, partially exposed rootstocks. The fruit is a red berry.

This perennial, a more northerly species than the other arums in the East, is also found in Eurasia. It is very showy when in flower and, later, when bearing its fruit. The genus name Calla, its meaning uncertain, was used by Pliny; the species epithet palustris means of marshes.

Image Gallery:

8 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit: Red
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AK , CT , IL , IN , IA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , ND , OH , PA , RI , VT , WI
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Que. to Alt., s. to MD, n. IN & MN
Native Habitat: Cool, shaded swales and bogs where water is stagnant

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet , Moist
Aquatic: yes
Soil Description: Shallow water or slightly acid, wet soil.
Conditions Comments: A light mulch is necessary in extremely cold, snowless winters. Wild calla will not survive a dry spell.


Use Food: EDIBLE PARTS: Dried berries are edible. Dried seeds and rootstocks can be made into a flour, but used only in times of need. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Causes severe pain in mouth if ingested. Symptoms include burning and swelling of lips, mouth, tongue, and throat; difficulty of speaking. Toxic Principle: Calcium oxalate crystals. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Last Update: 2012-07-06