Voodoo Magic

June 2, 2008

There’s a bit of Voodoo at our house right now. Specifically, the Voodoo Lily out by the pond is blooming.

It’s scientifically known as Dracunculus vulgaris (aka Arum dracunculus). Some of the common names are Dragon Arum, Ragons, Snake Lily, Black Arum, Black Dragon, Dragonwort, & Stink Lily. In Greece it is called Drakondia, with the dragon being the long spadex inside the enormous maroon-lipped spathe.

There is also at least one plant nursery that has dubbed it “The Viagra Lily” for obvious reasons.

When we first moved here, there was a whole colony of these plants on the hillside above the spring feeding our pond. Unfortunately, when the guys dug out the pond we lost a lot of them. It will take a while for the colony to rebuild. The plant spreads by tubers underground, and spreading seeds above ground.

It’s an interesting plant. Way up there on the cool-o-meter! Not only is it funky looking, but it’s a thermogenic plant! The first day or so it’s in bloom, the flower produces heat. I suppose that’s to help carry the stink. Yeah, for a short period the plant also rates high on the yuck-o-meter.

It smells like something that died a long time ago. The Voodoo Lily uses the carrion smell to attract insects that like dead stuff, like flies, for pollination. You can see in this video the smell works very well at attracting flies.

Fortunately the smell doesn’t last long, but all kinds of bugs seem to love it.

The flower (spathe) on this plant is a couple feet across. The shimmering purple-black “jack” supposedly can grow to as long as fifty inches. This one has a ways to go before it reaches that size, being only a little over 23 inches long from the base down in the throat of the flower, to the tip. It really is a neat plant. Just don’t breath deep the first day it’s blooming!

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