Calla lilies are some of the more interesting flowers you’ll ever encounter. It’s probably why they have about as many nicknames as a certain bat-winged superhero—the best among them being pig lily, arum lily, and perhaps most appropriate due to its shape, the trumpet lily.
These hardy, frost-resistant, and beautiful calla lilies hail from South Africa and are most commonly found hanging out with frogs on the shores of a pond. Let’s just say it’s their chill space—even though they can technically grow in water alone if they have enough sunlight beating down on them (who needs soil, anyway?)
Calla lilies are also extremely fragrant and bloom from a rhizome, also known as a creeping rootstock. The rhizome is basically a horizontal underground plant stem that can generate and sprout new callas. They are most commonly white, but calla lily colors can also come in nearly every hue and shade under the rainbow—from vibrant oranges and yellows to bewitching dark blues and purples.
But enough mucking about in the weeds, let’s get into the fun stuff. Here are seven cool calla lily facts that might just wow or teach you a thing or two. We hope it’s both!
Callas are Highly Poisonous to Humans and Animals
We’ll admit, this one isn’t the most attractive fact calla lilies have up their sleeve, but, let’s be honest, nobody likes going to the doctor (or vet.) So make sure to always keep your vase of calla lilies away from children and pets.
Trust us on this one because the symptoms don’t sound exactly pleasant—diarrhea, stomach pain, intense burning sensations, and swelling of the throat, tongue, and lips. Yeah…thanks, but no thanks!
Even though they are toxic, callas are considered a delicacy in some Asian countries. The bulbs are cultivated for cooking by removing the poisonous inner flowers. Speaking of which…
Each Calla Lily Has Numerous Flowers
Yep, you heard us right. Each individual calla lily actually houses a series of flowers. The single outside petal—technically called a spathe—swoops around and protects those inner flowers in an elegant swirl shape. The yellow spike on the inside is called the spadix, and that’s where you’ll find the group of tiny flowers clustered together (#themorethemerrier).
Actually, Callas Aren’t Lilies, At All
We know what you’re thinking: “What!? It’s right there in the name?” Well, you can thank Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus for that blunder.
In a lapse of judgment that would go down in history, he mistakenly recorded the flower as a member of the lily family. By the time German botanist Karl Koch corrected him, the name calla lily had already stuck, and we’ve been using it ever since.
Calla Lilies are Social Butterflies
Like your most outgoing friends, callas love a good party. In fact, they are the ultimate extroverts.
But seriously, callas grow best in groups. So if you want to plant some, place the bulbs together in a triangle or circle formation and watch them do their thing and party it up—or just grow, but you know what we mean. It’s a lot more fun imaging them throwing a rager in your garden while you’re not looking.
Callas Attract Pesky Pollen
If you somehow got your hands on a gorgeous bouquet of calla lilies, first, good on ya! We see ya, girl! But, second, you’re going to want to make absolutely sure you give them proper care and affection. Luckily, taking care of lilies is extremely simple and similar to taking care of any other flower bouquet—with one big exception.
Callas attract harmful pollen (hey, no one is perfect!) that is, if you don’t take the necessary steps to remove it as it builds up—we’re very sorry to say—will destroy your pretty little callas.
But don’t worry too much, the Queen of Homemaking herself, Martha Stewart can show you how to get rid of those troubling little annoyances!
Calla Lilies are Rich with Symbolism and History
Ancient cultures were enamored with the charm and allure of calla lilies. The name calla itself means “beautiful” in Greek. So as you could guess, callas were and are a symbol of beauty to this day.
And calla obsession extends to Roman mythology, as well. Venus, the goddess of love, sex, and beauty, felt so threatened by their beauty that she cursed the flower to decrease its appeal. The curse produced the yellow spike in the center that we mentioned before.
We might be a bit biased, but we think that trademark spike of yellow provides a pleasant contrast from the outer petal. To each their own!
Calla Lilies Have Long Fascinated the Artistic-minded
Callas didn’t stop strutting their stuff in Ancient Greece or Rome, either. In fact, artists from across the world and centuries have made calla lilies the main subject of their artwork.
Diego Rivera’s paintings made calla lilies synonymous with Mexican culture. French artist Henri Matisse painted the stunning “Calla Lilies, Irises, and Mimosas.” And, most famously, many Georgia O’Keefe paintings brilliantly depicted calla lilies and their similarities to the female anatomy.
Ugh, like we even needed more proof of the beauty of calla lilies. We’re starting to see your point, Venus…JK, calla lilies…you know we can’t ever get enough of your dazzling beauty!Shop All