Calla palustris L.

Botanical Name

Calla palustris L.


Calla brevis (Raf.) Á.Löve & D.Löve, Calla cordifolia Stokes, Calla generalis E.H.L.Krause, Calla ovatifolia Gilib. [Invalid], Callaion bispatha (Raf.) Raf., Callaion brevis (Raf.) Raf., Callaion heterophylla (Raf.) Raf., Callaion palustris (L.) Raf., Dracunculus paludosus Montandon, Provenzalia bispatha Raf., Provenzalia brevis Raf., Provenzalia heterophyla Raf., Provenzalia palustris (L.) Raf. [4]



Vernacular Names

English Water arum, hog arum, wild calla, water dragon [1], female water dragon [2], bog arum, calla, calla lily, marsh calla, wild calla lily [6], swamp-robin [7]
China Shuyu gan cai [5]
Myanmar Taux pok [5]
Spain Copo-de-leita [8]
Germany Drachenkraut, kalla, sclangenkraut, schweinekraut, schweisohr, sumpfdrachenwurz, sumpfkalla, sumpfkraut [8].


Calla palustris is a member of the Araceae family.  It is herbaceous, evergreen or deciduous plant. The rhizome is horizontal, seldom branches and the leaf scars are prominent. The leaves are simple, basal, glossy dark green with long petioles. The blades are broadly ovate to reniform with pinnate venation. The apex is acute while the base is cordate. The inflorescence is usually solitary. The spathe is white, apex involute, margins overlapping to form a tube. The spandex is shorter than the spathe. The flowers are perfect or uppermost staminate. There are six stamens, single pistil and stigma. The berries are bright red with 4-10 seeds surrounded by gelatinous material [1].


C. palustris occupies a variety of wetland habitats and is distributed widely in the temperate belt of North America, Europe and Asia [1].

Plant Use

C. palustris has been introduced globally as ornamentals. People of Eastern and Central America make flour out of the dried seeds and rootstocks. Meticulous processing to remove the toxic elements are being done before the parts are ground into nutritious flour [1] [3].

Toxic Parts

Whole plant especially the roots are capable of causing contact irritation [2].


Raphides of water insoluble calcium oxalate and unverified proteinaceous toxins [2].

Risk Management

C. palustris has never been thought to be of significant danger to humans or livestock. However, as is any other potentially poisonous plants that could cause alarming immediate symptoms, it is best to avoid using the plant in home landscaping when there are toddlers around the house [1] [2].

Clinical Findings

It is capable of causing painful burning sensation of the lips and oral cavity following its ingestion. The inflammatory reaction is often accompanied with oedema and blistering. If affecting the trachea-pharyngeal cavity it may result in difficulty in breathing. Hoarseness, dysphonia and dysphagia may be a consequence of the inflammatory process [2].


Immediate action would be to wash out all traces of the plant material from the mouth if consumed. Provide the victim with cold liquids or demulcents to relieve pain. Analgesics may be provided if the need arise. Pain and oedema usually subsides slowly even without treatment. The insoluble oxalates are not expected to cause any systemic oxalate poisoning [2].


  1. Burrows GE, Tyrl RJ. Toxic plants of North America. Ames, Iowa: John Wiley & Sons; 2013. p. 136-137.
  2. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Balick MJ. Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 2007. p. 99-100.
  3. Peterson LA, Peterson RT. A field guide to edible wild plants: Eastern and Central North America. New York: Houghton Miffin Co.; 1977. p. 22 .
  4. The Plant List. Calla palustris L. Ver1.1. c2013.  [cited 2014 Sept 30]. Available from: 
  5. Watkins J. Dictionary of Wa Volume 1: With translation into English, Burmese and Chinese. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill; 2013. p. 991.
  6. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medical and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Boca Raton, Florida: Taylor & Francis; 2012. p. 726.
  7. Erichsen-Brown C. Medicinal and other uses of North American plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to Eastern Indian Tribes. New York: Dover Publications; 2013. p. 235.
  8. Wagstaff DJ. International poisonous plants phecklist: An evidence-based reference. Boca Raton, Florida: Taylor & Francis; 2008. p. 74.