Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



Elizabeth McClintock

In CA perennial herb, terrestrial or aquatic, from short, generally erect caudex, often monoecious; elsewhere shrub, vine, or growing on other plant
Stems sometimes above ground in addition to caudex
Leaves simple or compound, basal (or cauline and 2-ranked)
Inflorescence: generally spike, fleshy, generally ill-smelling; flowers generally many, bisexual or pistillate below, staminate above; bract subtending spike 1, generally showy (petal-like), generally > spike, sometimes sheathing
Flower: perianth parts 4 or 6, free or fused; stamens generally 0, 4, or 6, free or fused; ovary superior to half-inferior and sunken in inflorescence axis, chambers 1–3, stigma ± sessile
Fruit: berry
Seeds 1–many
Genera in family: ± 110 genera, 1800 species: generally tropical, subtropical. Some cultivated for food (Colocasia , taro) or ornamental (Philodendron, Anthurium )
Reference: [Wilson 1960 J Arnold Arbor 41:47–63]
Needle-like crystals in most tissues cause intense irritation when chewed; those of Dieffenbachia, dumb-cane, may induce temporary speechlessness.


Perennial from rhizomes, terrestrial, monoecious, generally fragrant
Leaves basal, clumped; petiole ± = to > blade, spongy; blade hastate or sagittate to ovate, base deeply lobed
Inflorescence < bract; peduncle ± = or > leaves, spongy; bract white or brightly colored
Flowers: perianth 0
Staminate flower: stamens 2–3, free
Pistillate flower: ovary chambers 3
Species in genus: ± 6 species: s Africa
Etymology: (F. Zantedeschi, Italian botanist, 1773–1846)
Reference: [Letty 1973 Bothalia 11:5–26]
Cult for showy inflorescence, bract; cut inflorescence long-lasting.


Z. aethiopica (L.) Spreng.


Leaves appearing with inflorescence; petiole < 9 dm; blade 15–45 cm, 10–25 cm wide
Inflorescence: spike ± = bract, yellow; bract < 25 cm, funnel-shaped, white, tip linear, recurved, green
Ecology: Uncommon. Waste ground near former habitations
Elevation: < 300 m.
Bioregional distribution: North Coast, Outer North Coast Ranges, San Francisco Bay Area, Outer South Coast Ranges, South Coast
Distribution outside California: native to s Africa
Commonly cultivated.

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