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Lords-and-ladies (Arum maculatum) with its bright autumn berries, is a valuable perennial for shady borders, but its tendency to self-seed means it can quickly become a nuisance.
Common name Lords-and-ladies, cuckoo pintBotanical name Arum maculatumAreas affected Shady or woodland edge beds and borders, uncultivated groundMain causes Self-seeding and distribution of rhizome fragmentsTiming Leaves and flower spathes from spring and berries in the autumn, but tubers persist in the soil year-round
Lords-and-ladies is a shade-loving tuberous perennial, native to UK woodlands and hedgerows, which can often become established in gardens. Self-seeding readily, it can quickly take over a border under the right conditions and is difficult to control. The related Italian arum (A. italicum) and its forms, with marbled white-veined leaves, can also become a problem in gardens. Grown widely as attractive ground-cover, it too can overtake borders in favourable conditions. Control in the same way as for lords-and-ladies.
A white tuberous rhizome throws up large arrow-shaped and commonly black-spotted leaves to 45cm in spring.The flowers, which appear in April and May, are borne at the base of a cylindrical structure called a spadix which is enveloped by a green to purple-tinged membranous hood called a spathe. The flowers are followed in autumn by a conspicuous spike of orange-red berries.
All parts of the plant are poisonous.
Plants can spread quickly by self-seeding and the unintentional distribution of rhizome fragments around the garden, for example in home compost. The deep rooting tubers multiply each year and are difficult to remove entirely, with fragments left behind in the soil regenerating quickly.
Tackling large infestations of lords-and-ladies in a well-planted bed can be difficult. To get rid of it completely requires time and patience. Try the following non-chemical approaches:
There is little recorded data on the chemical susceptibility of this weed but success might be had by applying SBK Brushwood Killer in spring when there is an abundance of leafy growth.
The systemic glyphosate-based herbicide Round-up would also likely be effective, but several applications may be needed. To improve the uptake of glyphosate, bruise weed foliage with the back of a spade or by treading before treatment.
Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Weedkillers for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining weedkillers available to gardeners; see sections 1a and 4)
Chemicals: using spot and broad-scale weedkillersChemicals: using a sprayerChemicals: using safely and effectivelyWeeds: non-chemical control
Bluebells as weedsCelandineGarden thugs: potential nuisance plantsGround elderIvy on trees and as a ground cover weedOxalisWild garlic and crow garlic
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