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.


15 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.

  5. Sonny Khan says:

    Many foraging books, such as The Forager Handbook, say that the tuber can be roasted in the oven for 45 mins and then is safe to be eaten. I have done that, and roasted it on high heat for an hour and a half to be safe, but the oxalate crystals are still active, and it is still not safe to eat. I just placed it against my lip after cooking as a test, and my lip burned. So don’t listen to the books if they say you can cook it! The only way to make it safe is grating and leaving it to soak in water, and using the resultant flour.

  6. BristolianJ says:

    Nibbling one of these was my first (and let’s hope, only) serious foraging mistake! I thought it looked like sorrel so I ate a tiny bite. It felt like glass fragments or stinging nettle stings in my mouth! Took quite a while (and quite a lot of spitting) to calm down.

  7. Karen says:

    I have just read in an article that the berries are poisonous to dogs.

  8. Mike says:

    Apparently fatal to dogs if consumed.

  9. Mrs S Wallhead says:

    These are extremely toxic to dogs and can cause irreparable damage and death. Please be aware when out with your dog.

  10. Gareth Daniels says:

    It is interesting that some of the comments above appeared on the 8th April. On the 8th of April an article was published in the UK media about a dog’s death. The symptoms, the amount consumed and the length of time the dog suffered are not consistent with what would be expected from ingestion of berries from this species. There might well have been some lazy and sensationalist journalism here.

    Due to the nature of the oxalate crystals consumption of large amount of this plant is difficult. As such serious poisoning issues are very rare. Worth being aware of this plant but take stories in the media regarding toxic plants with an appropriately sized amount of salt!

  11. John in Shropshire says:

    I have never picked Sorrel as I am too worried about getting Lords and Ladies by mistake.
    Is there a fool proof safe way of telling the two apart?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Sorrel has distinctly sharp ‘points’ on the tails of the leaf, Lords and Ladies has rounded tails.

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