Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Caladium bicolor Vent.

Tender, tuberous-rooted perennial with slender stems bearing broadly lance-shaped, dark green leaves spotted and streaked with white, pink or red, and greenish white spathes in spring.  To 30cm.  [RHS, Hortus].  There are numerous garden varieties.

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This as well as several other supposed species of Arum differs considerably from the generic character, which therefore needs correcting.  The spadix is surrounded at the base with globose rose-coloured ovaries terminated with a hemispherical warty stigma.  There are no cirrhi as in Arum maculatum, but the anthers or rather masses of pollen begin immediately above the female flowers with hardly any intervening space, and are at first somewhat distinct, roundish, then larger and more irregular, and soon crowded together, covering the whole spadix to its extremity, separating into irregular, four-sided masses, much in the same manner as starch does in drying, but there is no appearance of the regular organisation usual in anthers.  This plant, which has been frequently mistaken for the Arum pictum of Linnaeus, was brought from Madeira, where it is cultivated in the gardens for the sake of the beauty of its leaves, which grow sometimes to a much greater size than the one represented in our figure.  Said in the Hortus Kewensis to be introduced by Messrs. Lee and Kennedy, Nurserymen at Hammersmith, in the year 1773, and flowered in the garden of Mr. Fonnereau, at East-Sheen, in 1778.’  [BM t.821/1805].

History at Camden Park

Included in a consignment of plants sent from Kew in November 1843 by John Bidwill [AJCP].  Although there is no record of this plant being grown at Camden it seems likely that these plants were sent there to the care of William Macarthur.


Published Feb 15, 2009 - 01:55 PM | Last updated Jul 14, 2010 - 02:14 PM

Depicted is a heart-shaped leaf, red and brown, and a single white flower.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.821, 1805.

Caladium bicolor Vent. | BM t.821/1805 | BHL

Family Araceae
Region of origin

South America

  • Caladium x hortulanum Birdseye
Common Name

Angel wings, Elephant?s ears, Heart of Jesus

Name in the Camden Park Record

Caladium bicolor 

Confidence level high