Plant identification

Asked January 16, 2018, 1:44 PM EST

Can you identify this plant, please? It came up in the middle of my yard this summer and has survived through this cold weather and snow. I would like to dig it up if it is ok to do so.

Talbot County Maryland

1 Response

This is Italian arum, a non-native bulb which is now considered invasive in Maryland. It doesn't tend to move quickly, but the many bulbs will spread when disturbed by animals. It also produces a stalk of berries, similar to a Jack in the pulpit, so which it is related. (Maryland does have a native Jack in the pulpit which is a fun, fine plant.) The berries spread it even more.

Italian arum foliage will produce a flower, then die to the ground over the summer. The flower produces the red berries, which spread the plant. It is still sold as an ornamental, though it is hard to control.

To get rid of it, try to dig up the bulbs and many tiny bulblets when the soil is moist. Because it is almost impossible to get all the bulblets, some will escape and the arum will keep returning. The easiest approach is to simply take a big shovelful of soil that includes the plant and, hopefully, all the bulblets. Put it in a trash bag and put out with the garbage. Refill the hole with fresh soil from elsewhere.