Zantedeschia aethiopica


Commonly known as a Calla Lily, though it is an aroid, not a lily. The Latin name has some exciting syllables but I found the etymology disappointing: Zantedeschia comes from Giovanni Zantedeschi, a 19th century Italian botanist, and aethiopica refers to Africa. I’m sure Giovanni was a swell guy but I was hoping for a more romantic name like… um… wedding dreams or poisonous beauty? The flower is native to southern Africa. It grows all over Vancouver and this particular one was looking pretty in Queen Elizabeth Park with her coterie of lovely ladies.



  1. I adore this plant and I think it likely that if you research the life of the botanist you will find the romance you seek. I don’t know this one, but I know that many of them lived lives of high adventure 🙂

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    1. Lives of high adventure :-)! That is quite romantic. Well, it is unlikely that I will research his prismatic life beyond Wikipedia. But I did have some regrets about calling his name disappointing. It is a wonderful name. Now I can look at a Calla lily and think “Zantedeschia”. Wow! That totally makes my day! Also, he was a prolific and appreciated botanist in his Italian hometown. And he maintained eager scientific correspondence with Kurt Sprengel, the German botanist who named the flower after Zantedeschi. I think the scientific correspondence (or other correspondence) of the 19th century was romantic: written in ink and carried by horse and maybe boat as well.

      I didn’t realize when I posted this picture that Calla lilies can be invasive in wetlands. I’ve only seen them in gardens in Vancouver, nowhere near a body of water. Do you have some in your garden?


    1. Well, I think you were both right – it seems to be a wedding and a funeral flower. It simultaneously represents purity and lust, making it a good choice for weddings. Its simple beauty and pure look make it a good symbol for untimely deaths. And the Romans grew it indoors during the winter solstice. All pivotal times. What lovely flowers did you end up choosing for your bouquet? Did someone catch it 🙂 ?

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