Calla Lily Flowers

Learn about this beautiful, elegant bloom.
Calla Zantedeschia 'Sunshine'

Calla Zantedeschia 'Sunshine'

The bright yellow blooms of Calla Zantedeschia 'Sunshine' practically glow.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Longfield Gardens

Image courtesy of Longfield Gardens

The bright yellow blooms of Calla Zantedeschia 'Sunshine' practically glow.

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Dig up some dirt on calla lily, the flower with the exquisitely elegant bloom. This floral favorite boasts a host of interesting qualities and facts. First of all, despite the name—calla lily—this plant is not a lily. Botanically, calla lily plant is Zantedeschia aethiopica. It’s cousin to plants like philodendron, caladium, peace lily, anthurium and jack-in-the-pulpit. During the earliest days of plant naming, botanists misplaced this beauty into the lily category, and the name stuck.

Another fascinating aspect of the calla lily flower is that the showy, colorful part we refer to as the flower is actually a modified leaf. A calla lily’s true flowers are found on that upright spike nestled inside the colorful, whorled “petal.” 

One other fact that’s useful to file away about calla lily plants is that every part is poisonous. This beauty contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. What that means is that taking a bite or getting the sap on you allows those crystals to penetrate body tissue, which creates a painful burning sensation. Cats and dogs also react to calla lily’s crystals in the same way. Keep pets away from this flower.

Calla lily plants hail from South Africa. The white-flowered calla lily flower commonly used for funerals and weddings is one species. It’s been crossed with other calla lily species to produce a host of calla lily hybrids, which is why you can find this pretty bloom in virtually any color. From deep purple-black, to butter yellow with a dark throat, to rich pink, to flaming mango shades—calla lily delivers when it comes to color. 

The original white calla lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica, produces flowers that are roughly 5 inches long. These are called standard calla lily flowers and have those long, elegant stems that are perfect for creating striking calla lily bouquets. Standard calla lily flowers come in the colors white, blush pink or green and white. Miniature or mini calla lily blooms grow to two or three inches long. These are the ideal choice for making calla lily boutonnieres. Mini calla lily flowers come in an almost limitless color array.  

In the florist trade, calla lily blooms come in as the third most popular flower—behind roses and true lilies. Unlike true lilies, calla lily flowers lack scent, which makes them a great choice for giving to individuals with allergies.  

The leaves on calla lilies can be solid green or mottled with white spots. The spotted leaves form an almost stained glass effect when backlit by the sun. They’re beautiful in their own right, and make calla lily plants a lovely ornamental addition to a landscape bed or container.

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