Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Dragon Flower, Dragon Arum, Voodoo Lily, Black Lily
Dracunculus vulgaris

Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Dracunculus (drak-UN-koo-lus) (Info)
Species: vulgaris (vul-GAIR-iss) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

60 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Dark Purple/Black

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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46 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Dec 15, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The flower has novelty value, but I like this for the beautiful tropical-looking foliage.

I have an insensitive nose, but the scent of this flower makes my eyes water 50 feet downwind.

I've tried this twice in Boston Z6a in well-drained sandy soils. Both times it's done well for a year or two, then failed to come back after a slightly harder winter than usual.

Positive lafrenchkitty On Dec 13, 2014, lafrenchkitty from bendigo
Australia wrote:

I live in Australia, Victoria, Bendigo, my name is ann-maree. I have two boys nick & tom. Feel free to leave a message about this plant at
we have very cold winters -6 -4 some winters. Its gotten as low as -8.
As this plant is a tuber of sorts, it can withstand low temperatures, as I was informed it came from Japan where the ground freezes.
Anyway the tuber re emerges in early spring/summer. It grows a milky white stalk with darker splotches like a leopards.
Then when it gets big enough leaves develop they are large fan finger like leaves. When the tuber is over a couple of years old it usually begins to flower.
It does not flower separate to the leaves developing. The voodoo flowers develop from the Main stalk after the leaves have developed. It will look like a large rolled up leaf but the edges are black. This continues to grow until very large. My flower was over 2 foot in length. The entire plant was well over 6 foot. I have had one plant 8 foot.
The voodoo flower stinks for a few days & really attracts flies It smells like a dead rat. A very big dead rat.
It loves water & during this leaf growing flowering stage, it really needs loads of water, it also loves fertiliser & cow manure. This will increase plant growth.
After flowering has finished, usually start & middle of summer, the plant dies down & is dormant until next year.
Repotting would usually occur now, if needed.
This plant prefers shady areas to grow with lots of water but fairly good drainage.
I had one of my plants in the sun, it grew but not well & it seemed stressed out a bit. But its hot here in Australia I the summer. 45deg to 49 deg it has gotten.
So I moved the plant to the shade & it grew very large the next year & looked lush green & healthy.
So I deducted that it is a shade loving plant
I was also told this plant originated in Africa, but I was told it originated in Japan originally.
So I have heard conflicted stories of origin's.
I hope this help people.
I am also growing titans & many other lilies. Cobra, snake, just to name a few.
Dracularus vulgaris.
I would like to add if this plant is watered too much in winter it will rot. It grows fine in a pot. Also I put two newspapers over the tuber & a sheet of plastic in winter if we get -6 deg I would probably dig the tuber up over winter & replant in spring, if winters are below -4 deg just to be safe. As if cold & wet it may rot.

Positive lejardin24 On Apr 14, 2014, lejardin24 from Hermitage, PA wrote:

Stunning and exotic for our northern climate! Yes, it smells pretty bad for about 2-3 days when it blooms, but is well worth it. After about 5 years of a single bloom, the plant threw 4 stems and 4 was a show stopper! We have it planted in a sheltered bed that gets morning sun and stays slightly moist but not overtly wet....the plant seems very happy.

Positive nomibird On May 27, 2013, nomibird from Gassville, AR wrote:

Here in northern Arkansas I have not had good success with these in full sun. However, in the shade of a tree they do very well. This year my main one is about 3.5 feet tall and the bloom is huge. At least, 2 feet of the plant. People may not like the smell, but our dog is in love with them.

Positive themikesmom On Mar 13, 2013, themikesmom from Concord, NC wrote:

wow what an amazing plant, it's bloom is like a giant! a humongous dark blood red black calla lily or jack in the pulpit style flower, it does not have a very great fragrance in the garden when it blooms though its not planted for the fragrance but for its rarity, beauty, uniqueness and large haunting flowers.

Positive GunStreetGirl On Mar 6, 2013, GunStreetGirl from Vancouver, WA wrote:

My boyfriend's mother has had these in her garden for years in Vancouver, Wa. Last year, after expressing interest, she gave me 20-30 bulbs and a few full flowers to transplant.

I am aware of the stench (considering it only lasts a day or two tops, I think it is worth it!) and I went a little crazy planting them everywhere in our front and back yards, also in Vancouver, Wa. I honestly didn't expect them to bloom this year considering the fact that I am somewhat new to flower gardening (I stick to veggie gardening) but low and behold it is early in March and they are already sprouting up. I am super excited, I have heard that they can go dormant for several years occasionally.

Side note, while driving through my neighborhood last year to see what everyone else is growing in their gardens, I came across another couple who grow voodoo lilies! I could hardly believe what a small world it was, and we struck up quite a long conversation about it, haha. She says that hers thrive with practically no effort.

It is such an interesting plant that I am glad to know that so many people appreciate it!

Positive Sadassa_Ulna On May 30, 2012, Sadassa_Ulna from Narberth, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I did not plant this, it just appeared in my 6B/7A garden. I noticed the unusual foliage last Fall and decided to see if it might bloom. I actually thought it was a type of ginger. I have to wonder if maybe a squirrel "transplanted" a bulb? I find it hard to believe it grew from seed but anything is possible. I can't say I like the smell but it is worth it; I hope to relocate it and propagate it.

Positive seawoof On May 23, 2012, seawoof from Federal Heights, CO wrote:

This plant came up under our cherry tree as a "volunteer" three years ago in the Denver, CO area. I had no idea what it was until I took a picture of it and took it to our gardening center this afternoon. So far, I haven't seen any seeds, because, more often than not, spring hail storms destroy the plant. This year, the unopened "pod" has grown to about 1.5 feet tall. I'm looking forward to monitoring its progress.

Positive Clint07 On Mar 28, 2012, Clint07 from Bethlehem, PA wrote:

For two years after planting, the two I'd put in showed no sign of surviving. Perhaps I'd not oriented them right in the ground. In the third year, one thick, succulent looking stem came up, sprouted a couple of big leaves that looked like speckled antler, and a spathe/spadix developed. For the first day the blossom smelled bad and was covered with flies. For the remaining few days that the blossom stayed full, it didn't smell and wasn't visited by pollinators. The fourth year, the second one came up and behaved itself. The foliage is handsome and unique, the blossom like something from science fiction. It's a great conversation piece in the garden. Growing well in Bethlehem, PA, in well drained rich soil and part sun.

Positive Jane7 On Aug 29, 2011, Jane7 from Cadott, WI wrote:

Living in west-central Wisconsin (zone 4) I was advised by
my friend who gave it to me, that it most likely wouldn't
survive the I planted the bulbs in my garden, but
then dug them and stored them in a box and put them in a cool place in my house over the winter.
So, if you're interested in growing them in a cold area, this is
what I did: in the spring (approx. March), the bulb starts to grow...but because it is not planted in dirt outside, I simply put it in a basket or a pot without any dirt ( I crushed some
newspaper and slightly nestled the bulb in it so it wouldn't
tip over). However, the leaves did not grow 1st ...the bulb
sent up the flower shaft 1st and the blossom actually lasted
for quite a few days (really stinky for a couple days for in the
house). When the flower and shaft finally shrunk down, I was
able to plant the bulb in the garden (when the danger of frost was over) and then it sent up the leaf shaft and the leaves opened up in the garden like umbrellas. It was really fun,
because every year I had more little bulbs to plant...I had a
50 foot row of these little "umbrella" leafed plants ranging from 4 inches to over 2 feet high. Nobody could drive in the yard without stopping to try to figure out what they were!
A few years ago, I had dug the bulbs and had them brought into the garage, but I was in the hospital a lot in the fall and
winter and forgot to bring them into the house, so I lost them all. Now that I have found the name of these unique flowers, I will again order some and enjoy them as I did before.

Positive ChicoXJ On Apr 24, 2011, ChicoXJ from Prescott, WA wrote:

I have four of these from two different vendors. I absolutely love them. Mine seem to be a little to a lot larger than average. They are growing in rich soil. The only thing you need to watch is how much wind is on them. They can break off in a 20 mph wind. Last year I had one with a 3' spadix on it. It is taller and larger this year and still growing leaves while the others have started to bloom. Currently the base is 10.5" in circumference and still growing. Can't wait to see how large the flower is this year.

Positive Dendros On Apr 21, 2011, Dendros from Burham
United Kingdom wrote:

The Dracunculus grows extremely well in my garden which is on chalk downland in kent. Despite the comparatively harsh winter we had last year it is already growing at a tremendous rate. My neighbour hates it due to the smell but she has a large garden and can afford to give up a couple of feet of air space :-).

Neutral SeattleSun On Mar 31, 2011, SeattleSun from Seattle, WA wrote:

I came across many of these growing wild in a canyon on the Greek Island of Crete and since discovered that they are native to southern Greece and Turkey. They were growing in the driest and most formidable conditions so they are bound to do well on most sunny gardens. As a result of my serendipitous find, I have mine in the sunniest and driest area of my garden here in Seattle.

Positive gloriousconfusion On Mar 25, 2011, gloriousconfusion from London
United Kingdom wrote:

I was given some black lily bulbs about fifty years ago by my mother-in-law, and they have come up every year since. I have given some to my children, who now grow them and possibly my grandchildren will grow them too, all from the same stock.

The leaves are attractive and the plants grow well in my shady border. They only flower for a few days in early summer, followed by a burst of colourful seeds, and then the whole plant wilts and dies. The fetid smell is outweighed by their beauty. They have weathered seriously cold winters without protection, except that they are near a wall.

Positive Type_o_ On May 28, 2010, Type_o_ from Compton, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

For a couple of years, I had been tossing my compost (in the spring) under an old apricot tree. One day I noticed what looked like 3 stiff Snake Tails jutting out of the ground. I was amazed by the leaves as they progressed. Later one blossomed. The smell of death was overpowering for a day or so.
My wife later told me that her grandfather had planted the Dragon Lilies in the 1960's. He stopped tending them when the whole family complained of the stink. None had appeared for many years.
I now have a cluster of a dozen. Each of those have developed 3-4 smaller plants surrounding them. Fascinating plants. Too bad the beauty only lasts a few days.

Positive dham On May 14, 2010, dham from Corinth, MS wrote:

You can now add Mississippi to your list of locations of where this plant grows. I discovered it in my flower bed last year. There was one plant then and I didn't know what in the world it was. This year there are about 15 new ones. The one that produced a flower this year I cut the flower off after it died and gave it to a co-worker to get the seed from. I think it is a very unusual and beautiful plant.

Positive Mountaindave On Mar 28, 2010, Mountaindave from Port Orchard, WA wrote:

Is this plant a long distance spreader? A friend gave me one and I planted it last fall. This spring the original one came up along with another 15 feet away!. I asked my friend about it and sure enough the same thing happened in her yard. I also notice posts here saying they popped out of nowhere - perhaps from a plant some distance away?

Positive Muguet On Mar 9, 2010, Muguet from Sioux City, IA wrote:

Today, March 9, I noticed that my container-grown voodoo lily has started to emerge from dormancy in a dark closet. Should I bring it out into the light and begin watering? I cannot put it outside yet, as I live in northwest Iowa.

Positive Donnaar On Nov 30, 2009, Donnaar from Goleta, CA wrote:

I love this plant (Dracunculus vulgaris). The whole family looks forward to its blooming with anticipation. The beautiful speckled stem and palmate leaves...then that gorgeous flower. We can always tell the big day by the smell wafting in the front door when the sun first hits it. I guess I photograph it every year!

It attracts carrion insects which are fun to check out. The smell only lasts two days and then the flower starts to sad. It shows it's beauty and then is gone...

I do not water it at all until after the first rains because it will come right up. If it is too early, it will wait and wait 'til early spring to bloom, and I think it ends up using too much reserve energy waiting so long.

Positive congminglaoshi On Jun 7, 2009, congminglaoshi from Tuckahoe, NY wrote:

Cool flowers! I have had it for three years, first year I broke the foliage off fairly early (the stems are very brittle), but today it opened its first of two blooms. They are huge, stunning, and kind of freaky at the same time. I noticed a bad smell while having tea and doing my morning survey of the garden. Thought there was a dead animal somewhere among the flowers, until I reached the source--yeah it does stink. No attention needed, just be careful not to break the stems when working around it.

Positive susana922 On May 18, 2009, susana922 from Riverside, CA wrote:

My landlord, a dear friend, neglected to tell me there were two of these planted outside the front door. This is our first spring in the home. We moved in here in September, but the foliage didn't appear until about the middle of January or so. I figured it was some kind of bulb, and just kept my eye on it. Then it began to bloom, I was fascinated to see what it was going to look like. Then, one fateful day my 6 year old said "what is that smell?" and I wondered where all the flies had come from. The second one bloomed about 10 days later.
Pretty neat to look at, pretty disgusting to smell, but you get kind of used to it, and the smell goes away after the first day. Kind of cool in a gothic sort of way.
Clearly it is low maintenance, as my friend and I are low energy gardeners.

Positive Camie On Aug 17, 2008, Camie from Monrovia, CA wrote:

I am in Arcadia Canada. This plant came up one year when I started watering a yard that had very little water for a long time.

Thought it was from outer space!!

In hearing all of you not knowing what it is.............................

Actually it is a Calla Lily !! A Black Calla. I have had mine for 15 years, smelly but soo cool!

I thought it would make a nice bouquet for someone you don't like so much!! Then when stink day comes....=o)

Just thought you would like to know what it really is ! Have a great day! Flower Lovers!

Editor's Note

Arum palaestinum is known as "black calla lily": and there are some black Zantedeschia (commonly known as "calla lilies") cultivars as well.
Positive kwanjin On Jul 3, 2008, kwanjin from (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have been very pleased with this plant. I thought I had killed it twice. The first time by forgetting I had planted it in the fall and not watering, the second time by snapping off the stem at the bottom with the hose. It has come back every time and is a very handsome plant. I look forward to more.

Positive Crazy_for_plant On Feb 9, 2008, Crazy_for_plant from Montreal, MO wrote:

I just baught a "bulb" of this plant and havent tryed growing it yet but my neighbor had one and it did very well hear in southern missouri. She had it planted by her pond but the smell of it made her sick every time she went out and it was in bloom so she threw hers away(i told her that was a sin!) I am planning on doing mine in a container on our front porch (evil laugh) I have no problem with its scent and find it...well relaxing LOL I am so used to the sent of dead rotting meat that it does not bother me now. I work for the state picking up the dead animals off the sides of roads all day so thats why im use to it. Does anyone have any tips on growing this plant?

Positive Delibob59 On Jun 11, 2007, Delibob59 from New Windsor, NY wrote:

I love this plant. I planted two of them in my New Windsor NY garden three years ago now I have 12 of them. People are amazed by them. I have not meet another person who grows this plant in upstate NY. I have found the best thing to do with them is just leave them alson

Positive kitten15 On May 29, 2007, kitten15 from Provo, UT wrote:

We bought our house this year and we found out that we have 2 of these beautiful flowers. They bloomed the week before June and they are so pretty. They do smell like rotting carp though, but its not that bad. They had some wierd looking beetles on it this morning. I'm very excited to have two plants in my front yard because there is only 2 claims to people having them in Utah so I guess that makes me the third.

Positive Windy On May 12, 2007, Windy from Belleville , IL (Zone 6b) wrote:

A member offered seeds of this plant several years ago.
I thought it would be hard to propagate so I just planted the seeds in a neglected part of the yard and forgot all about them. In a couple of years I noticed the leaves and asked on Identification forum what it was.
I moved it into a sunnier location and after a couple more years it bloomed.
Very striking and glad it is in the lower part of the yard away from the house as it smells like a dead mouse. LOL

Positive vans_06 On Nov 7, 2006, vans_06 from ACT
Australia wrote:

My dad (recently pasted away) has plenty of these beautiful plants growing in his back yard. I have always been a fan, yep even of the smell!! I love summer, they bloom in spring and the smell would be a reminder that summer is on its way.

I want to plant some where I'm living now, possibly in a pot because I'm renting, and plant them in the ground when i have my own place. unlike my dad I am a novice.

Positive somermoone On Jun 20, 2006, somermoone from Las Vegas, NV (Zone 8a) wrote:

Grows great in my area of Bellingham, Washington. It propagates on its own if left unattended.

Beautiful foliage and magnificent flower. Stinky....whewee!

Positive SmilingBlonde On Apr 17, 2006, SmilingBlonde from Afton, TN wrote:

Last fall, I was able to get a start of this neat plant. Not knowing exactly what it was, I planted it close to my door in order to care for it first. Now that I have researched this amazing flower, I may need to move it. A neighbor's flowered last year, but I must have missed the smelling day. I am just fascinated with mine and hope it flowers this year. What is a common name for this plant? I live in eastern Tennessee and was told it was an 'old' plant.

Positive wallaby1 On Nov 27, 2005, wallaby1 from Lincoln
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

This has flowered the last 2 years for me, although I have had it 6 years. Started with three bulbs, planted in a large deep pot and left outside. All grew, but frosts, I think, managed to kill off two. If in ground, it may not have happened. The remaining one I placed in a cold, shady greenhouse. I think it was not a mature bulb, but now it is quite large and robust.

Looking to put it in the ground in near future. The smell attracts blowflies, as the smell is akin to salty rotting fish. Smell only lasts a couple of days and is not to be sniffed at closely--it is pungent. No seeds made on mine as yet. The flower does not last for long but is magnificent. The spadix was 20" long! UK zone 8a-8b

Positive kennethB On Sep 17, 2005, kennethB from Ogden, UT wrote:

This plant does very well in the SLC, Utah area. I have had it for over five years now. Bought it on a whim and have had more fun with it than should be allowed. It is a conversation piece in my garden and I have given many bulbs to friends. The tallest I have seen so far is under a meter. I grow it in low nutrient sandy soil and have had very good luck. The stock has been stout the leaves brilliant and the bloom has grown up to a foot in size with is usual pungent odor

Positive bisty111 On May 22, 2005, bisty111 from Santa Rosa, CA wrote:

We live in Santa Rosa, CA (about 75 miles north of San Francisco). I almost cut this down thinking it was a new weed. When I saw the odd spotted stems I thought I would wait and see if it flowered. It now has 3 large flowers, one opened and stinking and two not yet unfurled. I was glad to read here that it only stinks for a short time. We moved to this house a year ago in early May and I know it wasn't growing then. Maybe the old owners cut it down as they didn't want prospective buyers thinking they lived next to a slaughterhouse!! What a nice find and it's now safe from the weed pile.

Positive JaxFlaGardener On May 9, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is my first year of having D. vulgaris. I planted the bulbs last Fall as part of a catalog order purchase, mostly just to have something "exotic." The smell is BAD, as described here like a rotting dead rat. If you happen to be down wind of it within about 25 ft, the smell will just about drive you out of the garden! The plant is such a successful mimic of this smell that it looked like every fly of every variety in my neighborhood was attracted to it. At the height of its flowering yesterday, I looked down into the bulbous cup below the spadix and saw a few dozen flies in a frantic swarm involved in what appeared to be an effort to eat away at the waxy light green base of the dark purple (nearly black) spadix. Turning on the water sprinklers around the plant seemed to help suppress the odor.

I've decided, as others here have stated, that the brief, very dramatic bloom is worth a day of stench. I do, however, intend to move it away from my front door and find a more isolated spot in my garden where it can bloom without being so nauseating and hopefully multiply.

Positive angelap On Jan 9, 2005, angelap from Weatherford, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

I live in Central Texas, zone 7B, and this cool plant shows up very early for me. I have it planted on the north east corner of my house, were it gets little morning sun and shade the rest of the day. It starts to poke its leaves up by mid January, and blooms by Valentine's day. It then withers back as soon as the temperatures start to warm up, about mid April. I basically ignore it until it shows up again the next January. I love this plant, despite the smell. My sons love to bring their friends over and dare them to sniff it up close!

Positive jesseela On Jun 23, 2004, jesseela from Walla Walla, OR wrote:

This plant grows in my back yard, and my parents and sister have one as well. The plant is as described, very beautiful and quite smelly. Ours has acquired more blooms with each successive year...this year we counted 42! The plant has survived extreme heat and cold (Walla Walla, Washington). We noticed that one came up on its own in another part of our yard this Spring.

Positive skiddy On Jun 17, 2004, skiddy from redruth
United Kingdom wrote:

I have just found this amazing plant growing in my hedgerow (moved house recently). Its too far away to worry about the smell, but its a real stunner. No one I know has ever seen one. I live in Cornwall UK and I seem unable to find out much about them.

Positive CatskillKarma On Jun 12, 2004, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

I have this plant growing in my Catskill mountain garden in the cold end of zone 5, bordering on zone 4. It is growing in shade under a Serbian spruce (acid soil) with a light pine bark mulch. I planted three bulbs from a commercial source, and two have thrived. One did not sprout. It showed no hardiness problems in last winter's unusually cold conditions (several nights below -20F). It is currently blooming, and smells bad, but does not smell strong. It is weird and dramatic and quite different from the native jack-in-the-pulpits I have.

Positive gbennett54 On Jun 7, 2004, gbennett54 from Auburn, WA wrote:

We live in Auburn, Washington where summers are beautiful! We are not great gardeners, my husband and I, but, we do enjoy nature's wonders. This strange visitor came to being from somewhere unknown to us. One year, a tiny green sprout appeared in one corner of the backyard. My husband and I left it alone, curious as to what it was going to be. We forgot all about it after that and did not pay much attention. Next thing we know, it had a withered flower. So we said, next year we will keep an eye out.

Well, to make the story short, this is the fourth year since then, and this is the first time we saw it in its full glory. Haven't smelled the foul smell it is said to have, and we do love the flower. It is a no care, no frills plant to have. Too bad the bloom lasts for only a few days. It does not need watering, as a rule, and it takes the heat pretty well. We have hard pan soil, so it's a wonder it is growing where it is now.

So far it has only been ONE plant, but this year it looks like another stalk is growing a few inches from the original plant. Such an amazing plant! It makes the backyard pretty interesting. I would love to have more of them.

Neutral spacy532 On Jun 6, 2004, spacy532 from Pendleton, OR wrote:

I have not done anything to maintain this plant. It is beautiful and it smells horrible in the heat of the sun. I live in Pendleton Oregon and it is hidden behind another bush and is about 3 feet tall. The plant emits a smell reminiscent of a natural glass leak.

Positive rosco605 On Jun 3, 2004, rosco605 from Springfield, OR wrote:

We live in Eugene/Springfield Oregon. I had gotten some bulbs several years ago, not knowing what they smelled like. Planted them outside the kitchen and bedroom window. We were so excited when they came up, then they bloomed. It took only days for them to be moved. Didn't care if they lived or not, and they have, of course.

So, as a slight joke, planted them in all the neighbors yards (glad you don't live by me?). Today as I went into the field across the street, I see the neighbor has thrown them into the field. However they are doing very well and just getting ready to bloom...what a treat!

Positive zoprano On Jun 3, 2004, zoprano from Upland, CA wrote:

We had just moved into our home last fall and had no idea what was coming up on our hill so found this site. We live in a foothill community at 1860 feet elevation and 40 miles East of Los Angeles. This is a very unique plant with beautiful foliage and a striking flower. It only smelled the first day it opened and was similar to a dead rat odor. The plant receives part-shade, moderate water and appears to be fairly hardy.

Positive WickedVixn On May 22, 2004, WickedVixn from Wayne, PA wrote:

I live in Suburban Philadelphia (known as the "Main Line") and I was able to grow one of these (zone 6). I ordered mine from a catalog because I had seen one of these in bloom during a garden tour in my area.

If you like an unusual plant you must have one of these. Talk about drama! And yes, it smells! When it opened, the flies were buzzing around it like crazy. I made a huge mistake of planting mine near my front door (what was I thinking?) and near my dining room window ... I guess when I planted it in the fall, I imagined that I wouldn't miss seeing it in bloom (not thinking of smelling it).

I'm happy to learn that it will only smell for one day ... it sure is beautiful and exotic. I'm thinking that I will try to move it this fall.

Positive cathees_ On Mar 15, 2004, cathees_ from Agoura Hills, CA wrote:

Found this plant in my garden in Burbank, CA in 1972. When I moved, I took the bulbs with me and now have 3 small groves going in Agoura Hills, CA. Grows quickly in spring until flower bud comes out; then leaves wither back a bit. One day when the sun hits the bud, it will open and smell like the dead! The odor draws flies, bugs, etc. for one day, then stays pretty (purple velvety lining with shiny black stem in the middle) for 2-3 more days before dying back. I've had the green-to-orange seed pod develop in the dead blossom, but had no success in figuring out what to do with it. Bulbs seem to multiply in the ground and I separate them out every few years to get more blossoms.

Surprise Lily (my name for it---the surprise is the SMELL) likes morning sun, then shade. Too much hot sun withers leaves. Delighted to find other Surprise Lily owners!

Neutral dragonscale On Aug 9, 2003, dragonscale wrote:

I live in northern Michigan and I'm tired of the deer eating all my flowers! I have tried only natural deterrents, to no avail! So I'm going to plant Dracunculus vulgaris to see if the odor from this plant will stop them! I will plant many and take notes to see what happens. This will be very interesting, plus is a very unusual beautiful plant!

Positive _luckyducky1956 On Jun 23, 2003, _luckyducky1956 from Camas, WA wrote:

I found this plant growing at my mother in law's. It had been left behind by her neighbor. I thought it was interesting, so I dug the whole plant out, bulb and all, with permission. I planted it in my yard, and it's surviving just fine. When it bloomed, the sun was hot and the smell was terrible, but worth the beauty of the bloom, as long as it's not next to your window. =o)

Positive mandyncat On Jun 22, 2003, mandyncat from Memphis, IN wrote:

This plant is growing in my neighbor's back yard and soon to be growing in mine! I live in Southern Indiana, Zone 6. It is growing in mostly shade and is gorgeous!! My neighbor said it does stink terribly when it first opens and flies swarm around it, but that's only the first day. Then, not so bad. Actually, this year we didn't smell anything, maybe the smell depends on weather conditions?? It has been cooler and rainier here than usual. Anyway, he said it does self-seed and multiplies unless it's kept cut back. He's giving me a start of it and I can't wait. I had never seen anything like it!! I just wish the blooms lasted longer than a few days...

Positive AspiringArtist On Jun 1, 2003, AspiringArtist from Kerrville, TX wrote:

This plant appeared in my garden a few years ago, and it was a complete surprise, as I never planted it. I was TERRIFIED of it at first, and crept up close enough to get a good photo to take to my local nursery for identification. Once I knew it was harmless, I got closer for a better look. What a fascinating plant! It puts out an odor that is exactly like decomposing meat or a dead animal that is over-ripe ... very nauseating. That "scent" attracts every manner of bee and fly you can imagine, and they dive deep into the plant. The odor lasts for several hours, but the bloom --- which looks like maroon velvet --- lasts a couple of days. It has bloomed every year for 3 years without my doing anything at all. Amazing plant!

Positive dpmichael On Oct 3, 2002, dpmichael from Rethymno, Crete
Greece (Zone 10b) wrote:

They are magnificent, mysterious black flowers that remind of myths. What I found on my land does not smell at all. The leaves are the most elaborate pattern I ever saw and the stem is what I call "leopard style of a plant". They grow in the shade, and cannot stand the heat, and they flower in April.


Positive Robinl8291 On Jul 1, 2002, Robinl8291 wrote:

I live in Ione, Oregon; high desert with alkaline soil.
My House is 100 yrs old; next to the north window, this plant thrives. It is approx. 4' tall and 3' at the base, (some Lily of the Valley surround the base.)

It always blooms around the First of June, and toward the last of June it starts dying back and forming seed pods that turn orange-red (like Arum italicum). I have tried to start it from seed pods to no avail, the plant also seems to have a bulb, but I haven't been able to transplant either. There aren't any other plants like it in town.

The flower is beautiful, but it stinks really badly - never try to bring it into your house. This plant get full morning sun, but from noon on it gets shade. It likes some water, but survived many years with very little. It has survived several extreme cold winters, even some sub zero for a month at a time.

Neutral calimar On Jun 11, 2002, calimar wrote:

I live in the Portland, Oregon area and there are two clusters of these in my neighborhood. I assume they have been shared by neighbors. I do not know the hardiness or propagation methods, but in my back yard they self propagate readily. I have cut about 20 down because the stems were not long enough to carry the weight of the flower. I have about 30 or so left, and after the first one opened today, I do not want to see what 30 Dragon Arums smell like together. It is however, one of the most striking flowers I have ever seen. (Some of the buds I have are about 18 inches long.)


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (6 reports)
New Market, Alabama
Gassville, Arkansas
Morrilton, Arkansas
Agoura Hills, California
Compton, California
El Cajon, California
Fremont, California
Goleta, California
Huntington Beach, California
Larkfield-wikiup, California
Oildale, California
Riverside, California
Rough And Ready, California
Upland, California
Vista, California
West Covina, California
Clifton, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Meriden, Connecticut
Uncasville, Connecticut
Wilmington, Delaware
Jacksonville, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Satellite Beach, Florida
Yulee, Florida
Roswell, Georgia
West Point, Georgia
Memphis, Indiana
Sioux City, Iowa
Barbourville, Kentucky
Benton, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Mc Dowell, Kentucky
Taylorsville, Kentucky
Kenner, Louisiana
Adamstown, Maryland
Hagerstown, Maryland
Greenfield, Massachusetts
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Corinth, Mississippi
Montreal, Missouri
Buffalo, New York
New Windsor, New York
Pittsford, New York
Roslyn, New York
Tuckahoe, New York
West Kill, New York
Chesterland, Ohio
Coshocton, Ohio
Wister, Oklahoma
Beaverton, Oregon
Hubbard, Oregon
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Portland, Oregon (2 reports)
Salem, Oregon
Springfield, Oregon
Talent, Oregon
The Dalles, Oregon
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Hermitage, Pennsylvania
Wayne, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
Clemson, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Gates, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Quitman, Texas
Weatherford, Texas
Provo, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah (3 reports)
West Jordan, Utah
Richmond, Virginia
Artondale, Washington
Auburn, Washington
Bellingham, Washington (2 reports)
Bryn Mawr-skyway, Washington
Camas, Washington
Lake Forest Park, Washington
Lyman, Washington
Prescott, Washington
Puyallup, Washington
Seattle, Washington (2 reports)
Vancouver, Washington (5 reports)
Walla Walla, Washington
White Center, Washington
Cadott, Wisconsin

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