Calla or Caladium?

“Earlier this year I ordered a calla lily mix.  I received the bulbs and all 5 grew, but 2 of them are NOT calla lilies.  They look like elephant ears.  They are ok, but they are not what I ordered and not what I wanted.  The 3 calla lilies are beautiful.  The ones that are not callas look like this:

Calla ^

Elephant Ears ^

I called the company that I purchased them from and sent them my pictures, but they insist that these too are callas.  What do you think?

Thank you in advance and love your blog,



Hi Rachel,

Thank you for contacting us here at Horticulture Talk.  I’m not sure what company you ordered your callas from, but your two ‘mystery’ plants are not a calla lily.

As seen in the first photo, the cally leaf is more flat.  The only raised structure on the top or bottom of the leaf is the the midrib of the leaf.  When you feel the bottom of a calla lily leaf, you can definitely feel it.

Caladium, commonly known as Elephant Ears, are different not only in the general appearance of growth habit, leaf color, and lack of flowers, but also in that the leaves are much more textured.  In addition to the midrib being well defined, lateral veins radiating out from the midrib are also well-defined.  While this can not be easily seen in the photo you have of the Caladium, it is quite evident of variegated or bicolor Caladium varieties like this:


Although Calla Liles and Caladiums are both members of the botanical family Araceae, Callas are in the subfamily Calloideae and Caladiums are in the subfamily Aroideae.

I hope this information helps you out, and thanks for reading!


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2 thoughts on “Calla or Caladium?

  1. Yes those are calla lilies. I have some of these very plants and they do produce calla lilly flowers. Caladiums do not. The above person mentions the description of calla lily leaves – which I actually see in the photograph, though they did not? The possible mistake you made is with the latest cultivars, leaves of calla lillies are not much more ornamental.

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