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Arum italicum, large cuckoopint

Arum italicum, large cuckoopint

Arum italicum, large cuckoopint


This cultivated species of arum lily shares many of the names and properties of the woodland Arum maculatum.



Meaning of the Name

From the Greek word ‘aron’ which is variously described as meaning ‘climbing’ or ‘poisonous plant’. 
simply means ‘of’ or ‘from Italy’ and the plant is said to be a native of southern Europe.  It is not clear, however, whether the plant was named as coming from Italy or because the pattern on the leaves was thought to be like Italian marble.

Common Names and Synonyms

Italian lords & ladies, large cuckoopint, marbled arum, the willy lily, Aaron's pen, Aaron's staff

How Poisonous, How Harmful?

Toxic component is calcium oxalates. These needle-shaped crystals can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat, resulting in throat swelling, breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach upset.

Though the orange berries are quite attractive, their acrid taste and the tingling in the mouth which begins quite quickly, mean that large amounts are rarely ingested and serious harm is unusual.


No separately reported incidents but see Arum maculatum.

Folklore and Facts

Being a relatively recent plant most often found cultivated in gardens rather than growing in woodlands, the large cuckoopint shares most of its stories with its older sibling.