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Calla palustris L.
Water arum, Water-dragon, Wild calla
USDA Symbol: CAPA
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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Fruit:
Red Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug
, WI Canada: NB
, PE Native Distribution:
Que. to Alt., s. to MD,
& MN Native Habitat:
Cool, shaded swales and bogs where water is stagnant
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
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.
BenefitUse 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
PropagationDescription: Pulp-free seeds may be planted in muck as soon as they are ripe. Seedlings will bloom in a few years. Cutting taken in July and set in a peat-muck rooting medium give fair results. Moisture must be constantly available.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2012-07-06
Research By: TWC Staff