Caladium – Flowers

Q: I have red and green leaved caladium plants and to my surprise they bloomed this year! The flower is like, but larger than, a peace lily flower. It had an upright thing in the middle. I did not know that caladiums have flowers.

A: Your observation is astute; caladium and peace lily are in the same family: the arums. By the way, elephant ear is an arum as well. The little “finger” you saw in the caladium bloom is called a spadix. Protecting it is a spathe, a modified leaf that partially surrounds the spadix and is important in pollination. Tiny flowers on the spadix are pollinated by flies and beetles that are attracted by the sometimes foul scents that arums produce. The Atlanta Botanical Garden received world-wide attention when its “Amorphophallus titanum” arum flowered a few years ago. Its spadix was more than five feet tall!

One of my favorite arums is Arum italicum. The silver-veined foliage is green all winter, the spathe and spadix emerge in May, and are followed by bright red berries (seed) in July.

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