DRAGON ARUM

Dracunculus vulgaris

Arum Family [Araceae

Flowers:
month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

Berries: berryZpossible        berryZgreen berryZyellow berryZorange berryZred  (poisonous)
berry8sep berry8sept berry8oct

status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8beetroot
 
inner
inner8red
 
petals
petalsZ0
 
type
typeZspiked
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8foetid
foetid
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 

22nd June 2003, Boscombe, Bournemouth Photo: © Dave Symes
A largish plant reaching up to a metre, the most prominent feature being the long thin beetroot-coloured spadix which slowly tapers to a point, and the red surround or 'spathe'.


22nd June 2003, Boscombe, Bournemouth Photo: © Dave Symes
The most notable feature is the foetid smell reminiscent of rotting meat that emanates from the spadix.


22nd June 2003, Boscombe, Bournemouth Photo: © Dave Symes
The fiery-red spathe is forked at the tip, and looks like a dragons tongue, hence the name. Un-like the spathe of Lords And Ladies, which is cowled up around the spadix, the spathe on Dragon Arum is more open and upwardly facing and thus more likely to catch rainfall.


22nd June 2003, Boscombe, Bournemouth Photo: © Dave Symes
The stem is round but roughened, with the leaves on long stalks peeling off in clusters just below the spathe.


22nd June 2003, Boscombe, Bournemouth Photo: © Dave Symes
The large enveloping spathe is red on the inside, but green on the outside, and wrinkled at the edges.

The flowers, both male and female, are hidden within the smaller bulge at the bottom of the spathe and do not have recognisable petals. The flowers surround the lower part of the spadix in tow broad rings. The female flowers, larger than the male, are greenish-yellow with brownish tips and at the bottom. The upper broad ring consists of male flowers, which are smaller and beetroot in colour [all un-seen].



22nd June 2003, Boscombe, Bournemouth Photo: © Dave Symes
Peering down into the abyss trying to get a glimpse of the hidden flowers.


22nd June 2003, Boscombe, Bournemouth Photo: © Dave Symes
The leaves are large and palmately but deeply lobed.


22nd June 2003, Boscombe, Bournemouth Photo: © Dave Symes
Leaves deeply cut, smooth and with a sheen on the upper surface.


Some similarities to : Lords And Ladies and other members of the same species.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

More likely to be found in a garden setting than elsewhere, although it does spread in the wild, but seems to be confined mostly to the south of England, with no wild presence further north than Cambridge.

Distinguishing Feature : The long deep-purple spadix which rudely protrudes from a spathe cowl which is deer red on the inside, but green on the outer. The foetid smell remininiscent of rotting meat but is only present when the plant is ripe, and doesn't generally last long. The smell is emitted to attract carrion-eating pollinators, such as some flies and is thought to be due to Indole, which has an intense fecal odour, but at much lower concentrations has a floral odour and is used in some perfumes! Indole is the pre-cursor to Tryptophan and Tryptamine and to plant auxins such as Indole Acetic Acid.

No relation to : Dragon's Teeth [a plant with similar name].

They are spread by seed. In autumn, like Lords And Ladies, the spadix and cowl drop off revealing a naked single green stalk whose top is covered in first green, then orange and red poisonous berries. The root is also toxic.


  Dracunculus vulgaris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Araceae  

Distribution
 family8Arum family8Araceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Dracunculus
Dracunculus
(Arum)

DRAGON ARUM

Dracunculus vulgaris

Arum Family [Araceae