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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

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Phone: 503-823-7740

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Alien Plant Invader: Italian arum (Orange Candleflower)


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:



Add a Comment


Judy Schmidt

October 3, 2014 at 10:16 PM

I just read the information you provided about Alien Plant Invader: Italian arum (Orange Candleflower). I just received 3 bulbs from Michigan Bulb to plant in my Central California garden. After reading this I am afraid to plant them! Are they as harmful in California as they are in Oregon? Thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you soon!




April 18, 2015 at 1:42 PM

I know this is late to respond to Judy, but if you plant it, plant the bulbs in a pot so it has less of a chance to spread.I don't know what your weather conditions are there in Cal. (if you're allowed to water, it grows in moist conditions).I'm finding that it spreads not only by the seeds or bulbs, but by a thin fibrous root system.I have been trying everything to get rid of it in the ground but nothing works.Highly invasive.I am now digging out the dirt from an eight ft square area and have to dig more than a foot down. If you decide to pot it,you may want to see what you can do with the dirt from the pot once you discard it(California may have specific regulations).Please do not dump it out and mix the dirt with other soil.One piece of root will multiply to many new bulbs!!!I live in Richfield, Ohio.I cannot believe catalogs still offer this plant or won't put an invasive plant species warning on it! Good luck



September 12, 2015 at 1:18 PM

I just found about 8 stalks in my backyard in Salem, Oregon...1st year seeing them....are they poisonous to animals? We have 4 dogs and I pulled them up but the berries popped off and rolled everywhere. I picked up as many as I could find


Jim Barnas

March 14, 2016 at 12:20 PM

At the very least, if you are not able to dig out this plant -- please, please pull out the flower by the stalk when it comes up. Later, look for any stalks you may have missed -- they will have formed a clump of green berries that turn red. These berries are spread far and wide by birds -- just like English IVY. Pull these berry stalks and BAG THEM and PUT THEM IN THE LANDFILL GARBAGE. DO NOT COMPOST ANY PART OF THIS PLANT.

Make this just another part of your regular gardening routine. Pull leaves when they emerge -- you won't get them all, but just look for them when you're out weeding or watering.

If you want to dig them out, do it carefully and methodically. Have a large screen to put the soil on so you can sift through it and pull out the little "daughter" tubers. BAG EVERYTHING.

Good luck, and happy hunting!


Sia P

July 1, 2016 at 6:09 PM

This plant is popping up in San Jose,Ca. I wonder should we be as concerned as Porrland?


Adrianna waddy

July 24, 2016 at 10:51 AM

We have a lot of them on our farm here in Rapidan. I cut them and put them in a vase on our table because they were so pretty. Now that I have found out what they are I want to dig them all up! Never heard of them in Vrginia before , has anyone else?


Meg R

March 6, 2018 at 3:31 PM

Hello. Do not plant this very aggressive species. In a neighborhood on Powell Butte, ants were found to collecting and moving the berry-like seeds into the natural space. I have read that careful removal of plant matter, nodules and surrounding soil can be effect if you treat remaining soil with lots of boiling water. I removed a patch in a new yard years ago: dig and bag up and throw in trash, and douse remaining surrounding soil with with lots of boiling water. So far so good.



April 7, 2018 at 6:22 AM

Yes ! My backyard nightmares consists of this weed. I've been struggling to get rid of them the last 4 years. They're nasty , aggressive and just won't give up. We got professionals to get rid of them this year and guess what with the rains they're popping back again :( more weed control .


Kerensa B

April 21, 2018 at 4:00 PM

We have them in Orange, Virginia. We live on the Rapidan River and they were in our yard when we moved in. I didn't know what they were. There were just two plants back then, and in four years they have spread across several of our acres into the forest. I learned the hard way that digging them out makes them spread. As much as I hate Monsanto, in desperation I am trying the poison-ivy version of roundup. It's either that or have them destroy native species' habitat. I've been able to apply it to the leaves directly without harming the adjacent native plants such as Virginia bluebells & Trillium. It seemed to have succeeded initially, but there has been a strong bounce-back so I'm not sure. The killing has to be done in the late winter and spring while the roots are developing. I wonder if salting them would kill them.



November 16, 2018 at 9:32 AM

I found them sprouting yesterday amongst another plant. Just the leaves.
Do I remove both plants?
What happens if I do nothing?

In Salem



December 17, 2018 at 4:27 PM


If you do nothing, it will likely spread. Depending on the site conditions and soil type, it could spread rapidly and has potential to displace other plants in your yard/garden.

If you dig them out, which is effective for early populations, just make sure to get all of the roots and check the site for regrowth.

Good luck from Tillamook SWCD


Joan Vellutini

August 21, 2019 at 11:40 AM

Don't plant this Italian Arum. We've been battling this invasive plant pest for years in the Rhododendron Dell in Golden Gate Park, SF. Very invasive, especially in irrigated parks and gardens. Too remove dig deeply down in the soil (up to a foot) to remove every little bulblet or corm otherwise one little corm or bulblet left behind will quickly grow and repopulate the garden again. Herbicides such as Roundup and Garlon do not kill this plant,they just knock it back awhile but the arum will quickly regrow. If you can't remove the plant at least cut off the seed heads to prevent further spreading.



December 5, 2020 at 7:50 PM

Recently moved into a new house in North Portland. Was fine all summer. This fall a few of these little guys started to pop up. A few turned into a few hundred. Our backyard is lousy with them.

At first I attempted to remove the tubers via a bulb digger, but it took me about 45 minutes to go through a single square foot (was working carefully so I wouldn't spread them.

I definitely needed a different solution than digging, so I'm now attempting to sheet mulch our whole backyard with cardboard.

Is it a lost cause? I would really like to avoid glyphosate or other herbicides.



March 31, 2021 at 11:17 AM

I just moved into a house in SE Portland.My yard is FILLED with these plants. I will need to dig them up before they flower. They are literally everywhere. I have ½ acre and they have adapted themselves to every part of the yard. Ugh, a big job ahead.


Lori Armitage

April 4, 2021 at 2:10 PM

These plants are so difficult to get rid of. We've been battling them for 10 years. The initial dig out produced a bucket of corms. That helped considerably and would only find single leaves or small patches after that. I found that a mixture of undiluted round-up plus corn syrup in a spray bottle works for the stragglers. Since the leaves are waxy, the spray would normally slide off and would not work, the syrup helps it stick. And the spray bottle helps target just the ones you are trying to get rid of. We had been free of them for a couple of years but had a few clusters pop back up again this spring.



April 21, 2021 at 8:05 PM

I too have these in Ukiah CA. I remember years ago walking with a co-worker on our break and pointed out a patch of them and she told me they were very invasive-a real pain. I noticed that we started getting them in our yard the last few years and I have been slowly digging them up and disposing of them in the garbage. Thought I got rid of some last year but they were back this spring. What a pain!


William Weddle

May 30, 2021 at 7:19 AM

5/30/21 Lexington,VA
I live on a 30 acre farm in Shenandoah Valley, VA. 1,000 feet above sea level. A friend gave my wife one plant 15 years ago and now it has spread over the entire farm. It grows best in partial shade an moister loamy soil, like in my gardens. However, the rest of my farm has a dense red clay, covered by a thin topsoil. The plant has spread into a dense 7 acre area of pine trees, into sunny, dry pasture, along two creek banks and into a clay bank with no topsoil.
The plant is a perennial evergreen. The foliage actually stays green even when the temp drops into the 20’s. Roundup, Spectricide and digging up do not work. I am about to use my go to mixture of Remedy, Forefront, Roundup and a wetting agent that I use to get rid of Autumn Olive and wine berry brambles. This will likely work, but it will STERILIZE the soil for several years so that nothing will grow. Do not use this mixture in your garden or along creek banks where it will get into the water.


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May 2, 2022 at 8:15 PM

Would putting a black tarp on this plant for like 3
months kill it since it won’t be receiving any light?



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Kay Slavin

November 20, 2022 at 3:44 PM

I got this out of a catalog years ago and loved it and kept replanting the red berries wherever I wanted new plants. I have no idea it was invasive, but now it is spreading where I don't want it and neighbors have it sprouting up from bird and squirrel rummaging.
One year, and this is crazy, I wanted to replant the seeds and I usually wait for the red berries to dry out and plant the seeds. I thought I would just rub the seeds between my hands to slough off the red juicy parts and quickly plant the seeds.
I know, this was stupid-----I was not thinking.
I started to plant the cleaned off seeds but dropped the shovel. My hands had swollen to twice their size and started burning. I jumped in the pool and tried to clean off my hands---ran inside, called poison control (who had no information as this plant is not registered to them in NJ). I took a Benadryl and probably should have gone to the hospital. My throat felt like it was hard to swallow (probably closing up a bit). I had a tough night but felt better the next day.
Turns out the seeds, leaves and stem all are made up of glass like fibers and are poisonous.
I was told the best way to handle your arum problem is to move.

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