Information on Lords-and-ladies

Common Name: Lords-and-ladies
Scientific Name: Arum maculatum
Irish Name: Cluas chaoin
Family Group: Araceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Lords-and-ladies is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

The most important thing to know about this plant is that all parts are extremely poisonous. The first parts of the plant to emerge are the dark green, glossy, arrow-shaped leaves which appear in January.  The flowers comprise a pale green, purple margined spathe which is cowl-shaped and which partly shrouds the club-shaped, purple-brown spadix.  Under a ring of hairs near the base of the spadix are the male flowers, below which is another ring of hairs with the female flowers below that. These tiny flowers appear from April to May. It is an unusual perennial dominated by the pale green spathe or modified leaf, also often spotted and edged in purple.  After the plant has been pollinated, green berries appear on the spadix, gradually turning through yellow to bright red.  This is a plant commonly found in shady hedges, woodland and laneways.  It is a native plant belonging to the family Araceae. 

My first record of this plant was in Adare, Co Limerick in 1977.  The first photograph was taken by me at Tintern Abbey, Co Wexford in May, 2010, the berries having been photographed in autumn 2009. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

This plant is also known as Cuckoo-Pint and Starchwort, the latter from the Elizabethan era when starch from its roots were used for stiffening the ruffs of the times.  Sixteenth century herbalist, John Gerard said that  

'the most pure and white starch is made of the rootes of the Cuckoo-pint, but most hurtful for the hands of the laundresse that have the handling of it, for it chappeth, blistereth and maketh the hands rough and rugged and withal smarting'