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Dragon Arum

Dracunculus vulgaris

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Araceae (Arum)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
140 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, hedgerows, roadsides, wasteland.

Purple, 1 petal
A spectacular, gigantic flower which consists of a dark purple spathe and spadix.
Clusters of green berries which are wrapped tightly together around the top of the erect stem. The berries later turn red.
Large palmately lobed leaves, occasionally streaked white. The stems are purple-spotted. Deciduous perennial.
Smells foul.
Other Names:
Black Arum, Black Dragon, Black Lily, Brook Leek, Common Dracunculus, Devil's Tongue, Dragon, Dragon Arum, Dragon Lily, Dragon's Female, Dragon's Tongue, Dragonwort, Drakondia, Edderwort, Faverole, Indian Turnip, Ragons, Snake Plant, Stink Lily, Voodoo Lily, Wake Robin.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Dracunculus vulgaris, also known as the dragon arum or voodoo lily, is a perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It belongs to the aroid family and is known for its large, purple flowers and long, narrow leaves. Dracunculus vulgaris is a tall plant that can reach heights of up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) and is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. Dracunculus vulgaris prefers partial shade to full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The plant is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as slugs and snails. Dracunculus vulgaris is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Dragon Arum, also known as Dracunculus vulgaris, is a unique and fascinating perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region.

One of the most striking features of this plant is its large, dark purple-black spathe, which can reach up to two feet in length. The spathe surrounds a tall, phallic-shaped spadix that can reach up to three feet in height. The plant's common name, "dragon," is derived from the shape and color of the spathe, which resembles the head of a dragon.

In addition to its striking appearance, Dragon Arum is also known for its strong, unpleasant odor, which has been compared to rotting flesh. This odor is produced by the spadix and is used to attract flies and other insects, which serve as pollinators for the plant.

Dragon Arum is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soil types, but prefers well-drained soils with a neutral to slightly acidic pH. It is also tolerant of drought and can grow in partially shaded or full sun areas.

The plant typically blooms in the spring, with the spathe and spadix emerging from the ground before the leaves. After blooming, the plant produces large, glossy green leaves that can reach up to five feet in length.

Dragon Arum is not commonly used in gardens or landscaping due to its strong odor and unusual appearance, but it can be grown as a conversation piece in a naturalistic garden or in a container. It is also not hardy in the cold temperatures, and should be protected from frost.

Another interesting fact about Dragon Arum is that it is considered a "carrion flower" because of its rotting flesh like odor. This odor is produced by the spadix and is used to attract flies and other insects, which serve as pollinators for the plant.

The plant's scientific name, Dracunculus vulgaris, is derived from the Latin word "dracunculus," which means "little dragon," and "vulgaris," which means "common." This is likely a reference to the plant's dragon-like appearance and the fact that it is relatively common in its native range.

Dragon Arum is also known for its medicinal properties. The root of the plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions, digestive problems, and respiratory issues. The plant's leaves and flowers have also been used to make tea, which is believed to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

It's worth mentioning that Dragon Arum is considered a poisonous plant and should not be consumed in large quantities or ingested in any way, as it can cause severe stomach pain, vomiting, and even death.

In cultivation, Dragon Arum can be propagated by dividing the rhizomes in early spring, or by seed. It can take up to 5 years for a plant to flower from seed. It prefers a humus-rich soil and it will grow well in a container. This plant can be a slow grower, but it's worth the wait when it comes to blooming time.

Dragon arum is not only unique for its appearance, but also for its growth habits. The plant is considered a geophyte, which means it has an underground storage organ such as a bulb, corm, rhizome or tuber, that allows it to survive through periods of drought or cold. These storage organs are able to store enough food and water to support the plant's growth once the conditions are favorable again.

As a geophyte, Dragon arum has a dormant period after blooming, during which the leaves will wither and die back. The plant will then go into a dormant phase and the rhizomes will start to store food and water for the next growing season. It is important to let the leaves die back naturally, and not cut them off, as they will help the rhizomes to store food and water.

It's also worth noting that the dragon arum has a symbiotic relationship with a specific type of fungus called mycorrhizae. These fungi live in the soil and help the plant to absorb nutrients and water more efficiently. In return, the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates that it produces through photosynthesis. This relationship is crucial for the plant's survival and growth, so it's important to not use fungicides or other chemicals that could harm the mycorrhizae when growing dragon arum.

Overall, Dragon Arum is a fascinating and unique plant that is not commonly found in gardens or landscapes, but can make a great conversation piece for a naturalistic garden or container. It's hardy, but requires specific conditions to thrive and it has a dormant period after blooming. It's also important to handle it with care as it is considered poisonous, and to be aware of its symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizae. With proper care, it can be a rewarding plant to grow and enjoy.