May 27, 2017

A Bit Starchy

Calla palustris

Calla palustris - Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

You wouldn’t want to eat it raw because the calcium oxylate crystals feel like needles sticking into your tongue, but Plants for a Future says that Calla palustris can be a source of starch once cooked properly. Wild calla, also known as water arum, is a member of the Arum family and a relative of such plants as taro, Jack-in-the-pulpit and skunk cabbage. It grows in Maine in swamps, marshes and on the borders of ponds and lakes. With its heart-shaped leaves and distinctive spathe with a rolled edge — the flowers are actually located on the spike, or spadix, cradled by the spathe — the wild calla fruits in late summer with a red spike of clustered berries.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

Calla palustris

Calla palustris - Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory