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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Suite 1000, Portland, OR 97204

Alien Plant Invader: Italian arum (Orange Candleflower)

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Watch out for this troublesome plant starting in April

Italian arum, also known as lords-and-ladies or orange candleflower, is an invasive species in the Portland area.  It’s originally from Europe and is on the list of Early Detection Rapid Response plants.  These are invasive species that we need to get under control in Portland now, so they don’t become expensive, damaging infestations like ivy and blackberry.

When it’s not flowering, Italian arum can be mistaken for calla lily, but beware – this plant can quickly become a nightmare.

Why is Italian arum bad for Portland?  As the plants establish in residential yards and gardens, Italian arum can easily spread into Portland’s natural areas and parks.  This perennial plant spreads by seed and small underground corms (like bulbs).  The seeds and corms are spread by soil movement, gardeners, and running water. 

These plants, like other invasive species, threaten native plant diversity and damage wildlife habitat.  When invasive species take over our forests and stream banks, they cause increased erosion, slope instability, and water quality problems.  Human health is also a concern, as all parts of Italian arum are poisonous.  Contact with this plant can cause skin irritation; eating any part of the plant can be fatal.


Italian arum starts popping up in April and May.  First, you will see its dark green, waxy leaves with white veins. Then in late May, Italian arum produces white, hood-like flowers that look kind of like a calla lily. Finally the plant will produce tight clusters of berries which change from light green to orange-red.  Italian arum usually reaches a height of 12-18 inches.

Getting rid of Italian arum is a pain.  Even professional land managers struggle with it, which is why early control is very important.  Herbicides don’t work well and digging it up is a lot of work.  Manual removal is only recommended on small patches, because soil disturbance tends to increase the spread of the plant.  All plant parts and nearby soil should be placed in a bag and disposed of in the trash—not your yard waste bin or home compost.  Infested sites should be checked weekly to stay on top of any new sprouts. 

We encourage landowners to contact the City of Portland with any additional questions. Visit this page for more information about Italian arum. The National Park Service also has information available.

Invasive species affect us all. They damage our forests, streams and rivers, and property.  Nationwide, damages associated with invasive species are estimated to be $120 billion each year.  In Oregon, the damage invasive weeds cause and the cost of controlling them total about $125 million each year.  We know that it costs a lot less to control new invasive plants before they become infestations, so we need everyone’s help.  Find out more about the problems caused by invasive species and why Environmental Services works to stop their spread.


Catch up on previous Alien Plant Invader posts:


Oregon Field Guide Features the Crystal Spring Creek Restoration Project

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The story showcases successful urban salmon restoration in the heart of the city spanning over a decade with multiple partners

Crystal Springs Creek is the focus of this Oregon Field Guide feature.  This story showcases successful urban salmon restoration in the heart of the city spanning over a decade with multiple partners. 

Reed College, Environmental Services, and others, are working to bring salmon back to Crystal Springs Creek– one of Portland’s few free-flowing cold water streams without migratory barriers between the headwaters and the Pacific Ocean.  And the work is paying off…

The cold, spring water of Crystal Springs is ideal for salmon recovery (see maps of where coho, Chinook, and steelhead are swimming in Portland). 

The City, with multiple partners, such as Reed College, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland Parks & Recreation, and others have replaced culverts, improved water quality, and enhanced habitat along the creek.  (See an earlier blog posting about projects completed last summer). More than a third of the stream length has been improved with new culverts, plantings, and habitat for native fish and wildlife.  Improvements in stream temperatures are already being seen at Westmoreland Park with reductions of more than 2.5˚C (4.5˚F)!

Environmental Services is using green infrastructure throughout the city to reduce flooding and erosion, filter pollutants, provide habitat and increase neighborhood green space for healthier watersheds. Green infrastructure works with Portland’s sewer and stormwater pipe infrastructure to protect water quality, public health, and the environment.

Get involved!  Spring Canyon Day 2014 in Reed Canyon is Saturday April 5 from 9–3p.m. Take a walking tour along the creek, organized by the Crystal Springs Partnership.  


Springtime is Rain Garden Time

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There are many resources available to help you build a rain garden and save money on your stormwater bill

Have these sunny days inspired you to get outside for yard work?  Or have the rainy days left you looking at muddy low spots that need some perking up?

Spring is a great time to plan and build a rain garden.  There are many resources available for help, and it’s one way you can save on your stormwater bill.

Don’t worry-- even beginning gardeners can build a simple rain garden.  Rain gardens add beauty, attract pollinating insects and birds, and naturally manage water on your property instead of sending it down the drain. 

Check out these videos to get started:

Howto Disconnect a Downspout

How to Build a Rain Garden

Once you’ve got the basics in mind, more detailed information is in the the Oregon Rain Garden Guide. If you prefer a class to get inspired, check out a free East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District rain garden class:

The Backyard Habitat Certification Program through Columbia Land Trust and the Portland Audubon Society provides one-on-one assistance to plan your site for native habitat and stormwater management. You will have access to native plant sales, discounts and guidance through a network of peers. Check out their Facebook page at:

If your rain garden manages the runoff from your roof, you may qualify for savings on your stormwater bill through the Clean River Rewards program. 

Ecoroof Symposium - Wednesday, May 21

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Registration is open for the 6th annual symposium on ecoroof research and implementation


Portland Ecoroof Symposium

Wednesday, May 21, 2014  - 8:30am - 6:00pm

World Trade Conference Center, 121 SW Salmon 2WTC, Portland, Oregon

The sixth annual Portland Ecoroof Symposium will take place on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at the World Trade Conference Center in downtown Portland. The event will feature local and regional experts sharing scientific research and case studies that explore the true costs and savings of ecoroofs. The event is open to the public, and targeted toward architects, landscape architects, developers, building owners and facility managers. The Symposium also features a Vendor Showcase of leading green roof companies from Portland and the surrounding region.

Event Registration

Registration for the event is $50, which includes coffee service, lunch, and refreshments in the morning and afternoon. Click here to begin the registration process.

Vendors interested in participating in the Vendor Showcase can reserve a table with an additional $25 fee. Vendor applications are separate from the event registration, and can be found here.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker for the 2014 Ecoroof Symposium is Anne Whiston Spirn, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Anne is a teacher, photographer, landscape architect, and author of many books, including The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design, named one of the past century's "100 Essential Books of Planning' by the American Planning Association.

Symposium Program

The complete event program will be announced in early April. Speakers for the 2014 Ecoroof Symposium include:

  • Janet Clements, Senior Economist at Stratus Consulting

  • Maureen Connelly, Director, Faculty of the Centre for Architectural Ecology at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT)

  • Ilana Judah, Director of Sustainability and Senior Associate at FXFOWLE Architects

  • Jason King, Senior Landscape Architect, Herrera Environmental Consultants

  • Aditya Ranade, Senior Analyst at Lux Research

  • Shawn Sullivan, Development Manager at Winkler Development Corporation


Register to attend                      Submit a Vendor Application


The 2014 Ecoroof Symposium is sponsored by the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and the Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. 

The Bureau of Environmental Services provides city residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.Ecoroofs are vegetated roof systems that absorb rain to reduce stormwater runoff. Ecoroofs also improve air quality and save energy. Through the incentive program that began in 2008, the city approved $1.9-million for 135 projects, resulting in 10 acres of new ecoroof. There are currently 568 greenroofs in Portland covering over 38 acres.



Portland's Tree Hug Record is Official


Guinness recognizes our love of trees, just in time for Arbor Day 2014.

hugging trees at Hoyt ArboretumWe knew it, but now it’s officially on record: last July’s tree hug at Hoyt Arboretum just posted as the verified official Guinness World Record for most people hugging trees at one time!

Treecology, Inc. and Hoyt Arboretum partnered with Friends of Trees, Environmental Services and others to get 936 people out into the arboretum—including a newly married bride and groom who happened upon the scene—to appreciate trees. 

Thanks to everyone who participated, we hold the record for now.  But, Scotland has challenged us, so now is a good time to save the date for Portland’s next tree hug to help hold the record: July 12, 2014.  We’ll need your help to make it bigger and better. 

But July is a ways off-- in the meantime, check out all of the activities coming up in April for Portland's Arbor Month.

Trees help manage stormwater and provide many other benefits that make our city cleaner, greener, and a healthier place to live.  Find out more about Environmental Services’ work to plant trees for clean rivers and streams and how you can help:

Related City Green posts:

New Trees Take Root in East Portland

Trees Catch the Rain

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