Lords and Ladies

Poisonous Poisonous Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

Very common and while not strictly poisonous they contain oxalate crystals which are very sharp and can penetrate and irritate skin for a long time and if consumed can cause the throat to close.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Lords and Ladies, Devils and Angels, Adam and Eve, Cuckoo-pint, Snakes Head
Scientific Name Arum maculatum
Season Start Mar
Season End Nov
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


Large, shiny ‘arrow’ shaped leaves that are dark green but can have black or purple spots.


Tiny and hidden within the base of the beautiful ‘cobra’ like hood. Arum flowers in Spring.


The berries appear in Autumn, are dark orange to red and grow in a cluster on the erect flower stalk.


Anywhere shady, particularly hedgerows and woodland although it can be found in fields and gardens in the open.

Possible Confusion

Arum italicum, pictured, is almost identical but has green and white variagated leaves.
Can be confused with Common Sorrel but the base of the arrow shaped leaves is pointed in sorrel and rounded in Lords and Ladies.
When young Lords and Ladies looks like and often grows among Wild Garlic. Smell is the safe way to distinguish the two.


Very common.

Medicinal Uses

While Arum was used in the past for treating various maladies it is best left alone due to the oxalate crystals present in all parts of this plant.

Other Facts

The most common upset with Lords and Ladies is if somebody uses the leaves as woodland toilet paper, a mistake they will only make once!
The root was used to make Portland sago which was used as a substitute for arrowroot, (a thickener), or made into saloop, a popular drink amoungst the masses before the general introduction of tea and coffee. The root needs careful and thorough processing before it can be consumed.


7 comments for Lords and Ladies

  1. Stella Woodward says:

    How do I get rid of a profusion of Lords and Ladies in various parts of any garden?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The best and most environmental way is to pull them up every time you see them, it might take a few seasons and a bit of digging but you will win in the end.

  2. Malcolm Bland says:

    Very interesting article but my father who was very knowledgeable about wild flowers knew it as “Lords & Ladies but also called it , “Parson in the Pulpit”. I wonder how common that nickname was/is?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      There are many common names for Lords and Ladies, some of them rather rude but I have heard Parson in the Pulpit from people on courses.

  3. Helen brigham says:

    I found one growing in my garden recently and had wondered what it was. Over the years I have seen the leave growing along the canal and thought they looked like some kind of lily. Glad I looked it up.

  4. Lynda Harvey says:

    If you get a rash caused by Lord and Ladies, is there anything that can ease it please? My daughter has a blistered rash covering both arms and huge blisters on the front her feet 😕

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Ribwort or common plantain juice can be a relief for many skin problems so I would try that, a pestle and mortar is the best for extracting the juices. Otherwise, although not foraged, magnesium sulphate is great for drawing out splinters or glass and I guess Lords and Ladies crystals.

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