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Arum italicum or wild calla: also called pan di snake, bisca bread or clear gigaro. Description of the plant, toxicity and botanical characteristics.
Its botanical name isArum italicumbut it is also saidgigaroorwild calla. Let's talk about onepoisonous plantwhich for its colors can attract the curiosity of children.
Despite the name Arum italicum, the botanical species is not exclusive to our country. It grows in all Mediterranean countries, in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Ukraine… It also grows spontaneously in the Canary Islands, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey and Georgia. In six countries of the United States theArum italicumis considered oneinvasive species.
Please note: wild calla is not a variety of calla but a botanical species in itself.
Arum italicum or wild calla
Theclear gigaro, commonly known aswild calla, is a small herbaceous plant that grows spontaneously in the undergrowth. It belongs to the Araceae family, the same as thecalla palustrisand of the species Dracunculus vulgaris (snake grass). In some regions of Italy, thewild callait is also known assnake bread: it is a poisonous plant that someone also grows for ornamental purposes, in pots or in the garden.
The plant has small dimensions: the stem is 4 to 20 cm high. Its cultivation for ornamental purposes was born for the particular shape of the inflorescence: a spadix enclosed by a large tapered spatula, as happens incallacommon.
The biological form is that of onerhizomatous geophyteortuberous geophyte: it's about aperennial plantherbaceous that produces buds in an underground position. The buds keep the plant alive during the adverse season when theArum italicumit has no aerial part. At the end of winter, with the increase in temperatures, irhizomesthey produce new shoots that emerge from the ground to give life to a new inflorescence.
Not only for its inflorescence, theArum italicumit is also appreciated for its leaves: the leaves are very voluminous, have a sagittate or astate-shaped internal lamina, they have three lobes: the apical lobe is lanceolate while the basal lobes are divergent.
In spring the aerial vegetative phase resumes, subsequently the plant produces its flower. The inflorescence reaches its maximum development from July to the end of September, when the flower will then lead to the formation of red berries. The leaves begin to develop only at the end of flowering, in early autumn.
Wild calla is poisonous
The wild calla (Arum italicum) is a poisonous plant in all its parts. It is poisonous for humans but not for all animals. In man, thewild callait can cause serious poisoning, especially when the red fruits (berries) are ingested. Due to the lively color, berries often attract the attention of children who may unwisely ingest them: if you notice wild calla lilies and you are with your child, make sure he does not ingest them! In the summer of 2019, some children of Rome ingested some berries, bordering on a tragedy.
The plant has a medicinal use but can only be used by experts: the leaves and the rhizome are used. Although the plant is toxic to humans, there is no shortage of animals in nature that can feed on it without any repercussions: this is the case of the porcupine that feeds on the roots, an excellent source of starch.
The plant, as stated, isalso known as Pan di Serpeorsnake bread. This name was not given because the plant is eaten by snakes, but because it is just like a snake it is toxic. In fact, the grass snake eats mainly frogs and toads, other amphibians and fish.
Arum maculatum is a plant very similar towild calla Arum italicum. The A. italicum species in Lombardy falls into the category of C2 plants, ie species of spontaneous flora with regular harvesting. The Arum maculatum species, on the other hand, is classified in category C1, that is, among the species of protected spontaneous flora, that is, its collection is prohibited.
Calle, Zantedeschia aethiopica
When it comes to Calla (Arum Italicum) it is good to clarify that it refers to a flower totally different from the Calle, with the final "e" that is the Zantedeschia aethiopica.