Cala Flower: Characteristics, Habitat, Properties, Uses, Cultivation

The calla flower ( Zantedeschia aethiopica ) is the best known plant within the Zantedeschia genus belonging, in turn, to the Araceae family. It is also commonly known as alcatraz, capote, cartridge, lampaz, cala, calla, cartridge, and in English as calla lily. It is a plant native to South Africa.

Zantedeschia aethiopica is a spiral-leaved herb whose petiole is as long as the leaf blade. It develops a rhizome in the soil from which the roots and leaves start. The leaves are also very striking due to their size and intense green color.

Zantedeschia aethiopica is known as the calla flower. Source:

The most attractive thing about these plants is their particular inflorescence called spadix, in which male flowers and hermaphrodite flowers develop. This spadix is ​​protected by a spathe or bract that surrounds it elliptically and resembles a large flower petal. After flowering, the fruits are produced, which are orange-colored berries.

It is a well known ornamental crop with many cultivars growing all over the world. It is a plant with a terrestrial habit that can grow in subtropical conditions. It develops up to 1900 meters above sea level.

The requirements of this plant are especially the soil, which must have a good content of organic matter and offer good drainage. On the other hand, irrigation must be a very careful aspect since this plant, having excess water, is more susceptible to fungal diseases. However, it requires constant humidity as occurs in the places where it grows naturally.

Regarding the uses, the main objective and the one that marks its commercialization is as an ornamental crop. These plants and especially their flowers have an elegant bearing that is used for many special occasions that require delicate decoration.

Article index

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    • 1.1


    • 1.2


    • 1.3


    • 1.4


    • 1.5


  • two

    Habitat and distribution

  • 3

    Properties (edit)

  • 4


  • 5


  • 6


    • 6.1


    • 6.2


    • 6.3


    • 6.4

      Plagues and diseases

  • 7




It is a plant with a terrestrial habit that does not produce milky sap, it is up to 1 m high. Its stem is underground, with a thick and succulent rhizome.


The leaves are spiral with long petioles measuring 33 to 82 cm, these are spongy and the leaf blades are simple and measuring 15 to 40 cm long by 6.8 to 24.5 cm wide.

Its shape is oblong-deltoid to lanceolate-deltoid, the base of the leaf is sagittate and shows 6 to 10 veins on each side.

The cove has a spadix-like inflorescence. Source:


The cove has a characteristic inflorescence called a spadix. Each axilla develops a sustained inflorescence of a long peduncle and surrounded by a large bract called a spathe.

The inflorescence can measure from 10.5 to 22.5 cm long and 7.5 to 13.5 cm wide, the spathe or bract partially surrounds the spadix, and in the basal part it forms a kind of greenish tube that opens upwards and broadens into a rounded-elliptical lamina of a pure white color, and the apex shows a backward curvature.

The spadix is ​​a spike that develops a fleshy axis and is surrounded by a spathe or floral bract as already described. The spike can be about 3.9 cm to 9.6 cm long, the male part of the flower is located at the apex and the female at the base.

There is no sterile zone between the two regions or at the apex. The male flower zone is about 0.6 cm wide and has a yellow or orange color.

Female unisexual flowers have no perianth, and male flowers have two or three stamens. The female ones show a super ovary, with three locules in which one ovule develops for each one, and they have only one style.

The floral biology of this plant can be divided into five phases that are known as pre-feminine, feminine, masculine, fruit development, and fruit maturation.


The fruit of the calla lilies is a green berry with an orange basal part, and they develop between 1 and 12 seeds.


-Kingdom: Plantae

-Filo: Tracheophyta

-Class: Liliopsida

-Order: Alismatales

-Family: Araceae

-Gender: Zantedeschia

-Species: Zantedeschia aethiopica

This species is also commonly known as Arodes aethiopicum, Calla aethiopica, Calla ambigua, Calla moschata, Colocasia aethiopica, Otosma aethiopica, Psudohomalomena pastoensis, Richardia aethiopica, Richardia africana.

Habitat and distribution

The cove is a plant native to South Africa, and is distributed in all subtropical regions of the world. It is located up to 1900 meters above sea level.

It is obtained both in its natural habitat and cultivated in Albania, Algeria, Azores, Bermuda, Brazil, California, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Great Britain, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, among other.

It is an exotic plant that grows wild in mesophilic forests near irrigation canals, ditches or drainage ditches, paddocks and generally in humid regions.

Zantedeschia aethiopica is a very ornamental species for gardens. Source: Giovanni Dall’Orto [Attribution]

Properties (edit)

The properties of this plant species are not so extensive because it has a high content of oxalates, so it is not recommended to consume it as it can have a toxic effect.

In case of consuming the calla plant you can suffer from diarrhea, intestinal irritations, it can even cause death.

However, the leaves of Zantedeschia aethiopica are used by applying them directly to heal wounds and stings.


The main use of these flowers is of course as an ornamental. It is an elegant flower that is used for many occasions from weddings to funerals.

It is a species that is mainly used to prepare decorative centers as a cut flower, either alone or with other flowers.

Calla lilies are very elegant flowers. Source:


The optimal exposure is in the shade or in semi-shady conditions, in places with moist soil, and not in full sun or hot climates.

It can also be grown as an indoor plant, but in this case it must be provided with good lighting to meet its daily light requirements, since a light deficit would affect flowering and produce greater vegetative development.

With respect to the substrate, the cove requires well-drained soils with a large amount of organic matter. This is important when choosing a soil type, or when transplanting into a larger pot.

In this case, if the soil is sandy or clayey, it should be improved by incorporating an organic substrate between 20 and 50%, depending on the characteristics of the soil.

To grow in pots, a layer of gravel or clay can be placed at the bottom to facilitate drainage. On top you can place the substrate that could be any recommended for outdoor plants.

When it comes to places where frosts occur or the temperature during winter is very cold, it is necessary to put a thick padding to protect the plant at its base.

The cove can also be used as a semi-aquatic plant. For this, it can be partially submerged in water, even this is a way to protect it from frost.



As indicated, the cove is a species sensitive to the lack of water. Therefore, the irrigation regime must be abundant and frequent, especially during flowering and when it is in the growth phase. The important thing is that the land or soil where it is located should never be dry.

A good practice to keep the soil of plants grown in pots moist is to place a plate under the pot to conserve the drained water and thus maintain humidity, since the water can rise by capillarity.


Fertilization is carried out during flowering every 15 days through fertigation. This is done by adding to the irrigation water a fertilizer, preferably organic, although enriched with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and microelements.

Higher flowering can be achieved with the use of phosphorous and potassium fertilizers. In addition, it is important to cut the flowers as they wilt.

The calla flower is a species both wild and cultivable. Source: Manfred Heyde [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]


Calla lily is a plant that is generally not pruned. What should be taken care of is to remove old basal leaves, as when they dry out they can increase the risk of disease or parasite attack.

Also, dried flowers should be removed. In this practice of removing dry organs, clean and disinfected tools should be used so as not to contaminate the plant tissues and allow healing to occur successfully.

Plagues and diseases

To avoid diseases, care is required especially in the amount of water and frequency of irrigation, since an excess of humidity could cause diseases caused by fungi such as Phyllosticta and Colletotrichum .

Other fungi can attack the root of the calla, and these can be identified if there is a yellowing of the lower leaves, as it is a symptom produced by Phytophthora richardie . Likewise, the root can be attacked by Rhizoctonia and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum .

Otherwise, the attack of bacteria produces yellowing and necrosis in the plant, while the bulb rots and emits an unpleasant odor. Therefore, plants infected by bacteriosis must be eliminated immediately.

On the other hand, some pests can appear as aphids, snails and slugs. If these animals exist, it is recommended to remove them manually.


  1. Singh, Y., van Wyk, AE, Baijnath, H. 1996. Floral biology of Zantedeschia aethiopica (L.) Spreng. (Araceae). S. Afr. J. Bot. 62 (3): 146-150.
  2. Catalog of Life: 2019 Annual Checklist. Species details: Zantedeschia aethiopica (L.) Spreng. Taken from:
  3. Tropical Coast (2015-2018). Zantedeschia aethiopica . Taken from:
  4. The tree. 2019. Zantedeschia aethiopica. Taken from:
  5. Vibrans, H. (ed.). 2009. Zantedeschia aethiopica (L.) Spreng. Taken from:

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