Zantedeschia (Calla Lily; Arum Lily)

Zantedeschia is a genus in the family Araceae, native to southern Africa. The genus contains 8 species and numerous cultivars of herbaceous perennials, divided into two main types: hardier outdoor forms with striking white flowers, called Arum Lilies, and the more tender forms with white-spotted leaves and colorful flowers, commonly known as Calla Lilies. Zantedeschia is widely popular and a beautiful addition to any garden. These plants can be grown in beds, borders, containers, but also in water (Zantedeschia aethiopica).

Name meaning

The genus was named in honor of Giovanni Zantedeschi (1773-1846), a botanist from Italy.

The plant is commonly known as “Calla Lily”. The name, which comes from the Greek word “calla” (“beautiful”), is actually a misnomer because the plant is not a true lily. Carolus Linnaeus, a famous Swedish botanist, made an error naming the plant. But despite the fact it was corrected later, the common name is still in use and relevant today.

Zantedeschia symbolism

Calla Lily symbolizes beauty, purityintegrity, faithfulness, holiness and death, but also resurrection and rebirth.

The name “Calla” means beauty in Greek, so the name fits perfectly. Known for its beauty, this flower is great for any home or garden decoration.
Calla Lilies are associated with integrity and faithfulness, which is why they are often used in wedding arrangements. Moreover, they represent holiness due to their religious and mythological significance. In Christianity, they are depicted in images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ as a symbol of purity, resurrection and rebirth.
Due to their exquisite appearance, these flowers are a common choice for different occasions including funerals. They symbolize death, but importantly they also represent the close link between death and life.

Interesting facts about Zantedeschia

Calla Lily Flower Structure

This plant has a large “flower” consisted of only one “petal”. However, what looks like a large petal is actually a bract or modified leaf known as a spathe.
The real flowers are very small and located on the finger-like spadix.

Is Calla Lily Poisonous?

Calla Lily contains a poisonous ingredient called oxalic acid.
All parts of the plant are toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting and other serious symptoms when ingested. The plant can be extremely serious and even fatal to pets and small children!

Is Calla Lily Invasive?

The plant can become invasive in some regions.
Zantedeschia aethiopica is considered invasive in many areas such as Australia, the South Pacific islands and along the coast of California.

Benefits and Uses

Calla Lilies are commonly used at funerals and weddings because of their elegance and beauty.

Zantedeschia Plant Data