Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Voodoo Lily, Voodoo Bulb
Sauromatum venosum

Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sauromatum (saw-ROH-muh-tum) (Info)
Species: venosum (ven-OH-sum) (Info)

Synonym:Arisaema venosum
Synonym:Arum venosum
Synonym:Desmesia venosum
Synonym:Sauromatum pedatum
Synonym:Typhonium venosum

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

42 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

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)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Maroon (Purple-Brown)

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

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

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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30 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive burien_gardener On Jul 27, 2014, burien_gardener from Burien (SW Seattle), WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have a good sized grove of these awesome plants, and they are fully hardy in Seattle area. I've never experienced a fetid smell from the flower. For me, the flower lasts maybe 3 days before collapsing.

My only challenge is: how deep to plant the tuber? Too shallow and they topple over once in leaf; too deep and they don't emerge. So, how deep to plant a mature, blooming size tuber (billiard ball size)?

Positive nancyanne On May 19, 2012, nancyanne from Lafayette, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Cold hardy in the south; the foliage has a very lush, tropical appearance. Flowers smell just awful, but don't last long, particularly as the dogs are compelled to roll in them.
This is one of the very last tropicals to break dormancy in the spring, usually mid-May even in the deep south.

Positive Work1ders On Apr 8, 2012, Work1ders from Glassport, PA wrote:

This plant is one of the easiest I have ever grown for an exotic. To tell you how fast it opened: I planted 2 bulbifers on March 7th, and today, April 8th, they opened fully. (When I planted them, I was thinking, it wont open for 2 months or so, and it'll be warm) but was sore wrong. Yesterday, it was a tall spike wrapped with a frilly edged coat of purple mottling and a meaty belly that appears to look like an upside down deep-purple body; today, it is peeled fully with its coat turned to its back like a maroon cape with yellow splotches. Oh my goodness! As I was taking photos and a video of the two cornutum flowers, I leaned just a little too close and caught a whiff of it's raunchy scent. It is now permeating the greenhouse and I've got to get it up outta this room. Oh my goodness! Whewwwwh, they gotta go! I'll post pics! Another thing, one of them I had placed out in direct sunlight for the past two days (I was thinking if I left the other inside, it would slow the rate of opening - I was sore wrong!), they both opened at the same time! Only one month from planting. Got mine from Home Depot for $6.98 and are measuring 22 1/2 inches in height. (I believe they were two year bulbs). Can't wait till it hits 60 today, cause it's ali-baba-ing through the house. No wonder they call it a voodoo lily. Lol!

Positive Leafhead On Feb 20, 2012, Leafhead from Madison, WI wrote:

Ive been growing this plant for a few decades now, along c other Aroids, and find it relatively easy to grow.
I like to store mine at around 40 degrees in dry peat during the Winter and plant indoors when I notice the spike beginning to grow.
I'll then move it outdoors when night temps reach around 60 degrees.
Occasionally, we'll have a mild winter and it blooms early, and I'll end up c a spathe that makes my house smell like skunk! Thankfully, it only lasts a day. It is then followed by a beautiful lobed leaf which lasts til the cool October days. I then store the dormant bulb in the garage until the first hard freeze; then I move them to the basement.
Hopefully, since it's been mild this winter, I'll find survivors from last years pups.
We shall see.....

Positive Malus2006 On Oct 12, 2011, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Could be even zone 4 hardy. I had one plant in a spot in my vegetable garden last year - I dug it up and potted it up for the winter indoor. Then this year I noticed two small ones coming up with their distinct leaves from the site where I dug it up (I had planted it and dug it up for winter for 4 to 6 years) following a harsh winter so it was surprised that it came up from bulbs or seeds that I had missed. Will have to see what happen after this winter.

Positive carolmzane On Aug 1, 2011, carolmzane from Allen Park, MI wrote:

I love this plant - I started with one and now it has grown to 5. Each year it gets bigger, with this years flowers as large as 35 inches in length. We don't really care for the smell, and since I didn't know any better when planting it, planted it by the front door. It looks terrific and I get many comments on how beautiful the flower is... My question is - has anyone tried to grow them from seeds???? I probably have 100 seeds from the pod of one flower and I'm wondering if they will grow... Let me know.... And, thanks.....

Positive magicdawn On Jun 16, 2011, magicdawn from Pennington, NJ wrote:

I love this plant, it's so exotic. My Mom got it in 1950 at Woolworths. Directions said to store it for the winter, but since that seemed like too much work, she just left it in the ground. The original plant was in Bergen County, and has multiplied many times over the years. Ten years ago we moved some of the offspring to Mercer County and they all took. She passed away and wanted me to take over the bulbs. I moved them to my house last spring and they are coming up again this year! The do smell and attract files, but only for a short period of time. After that, the plant looks like it's dying off, but a few days (or a week) later the stem & leaves poke through. It's well worth having this plant in you garden. Easy, exotic, large, attractive all season long.

Neutral eclayne On Apr 3, 2011, eclayne from East Longmeadow, MA (Zone 5b) wrote:

Re: correct name. See the page at the International Aroid Society noted below:

Positive smurfwv On Sep 23, 2010, smurfwv from Cabin Creek, WV (Zone 6a) wrote:

My plant was very nice when it was blooming, but the name on daves garden is incorrect, its real name is sauromatum venosum.

Positive kroskagoncha On Jun 26, 2010, kroskagoncha from Bountiful, UT wrote:

We lived here (Bountiful, Utah) for about six years. Didn't plant the Voodoo Lilly. It just showed up three or four years ago. This year is the first time we've experienced the malodorous smell. It's definitely an exotic flower.

Positive bkay13 On May 24, 2010, bkay13 from Poplar Grove, IL wrote:

This plant is growing wild in my backyard in a fairly shady wooded area where it stays pretty was already here when I moved is multiplying and it gets larger each year..I have several smaller ones each year that do not bloom until they get bigger..very pretty purple-brown flower..some maroon-purple..I have a couple of pics to share..I would like to get more info on this particular variety if anyone has more details..

Neutral twarren19 On May 19, 2010, twarren19 from Wabash, IN wrote:

This is the first time I have had this flower, so I am unsure on my comment, hence the "neutral". I was given this strange looking bulb from my grandmother. I was informed that it was a gift to my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother as a gift from a suitor from India and has been passed down from generation to generation. I am hoping to keep the tradition going, but I know very little about this plant. Any helpful information would be very much appreciated! I am excited to learn more about it!

Positive napdognewfie On Jul 17, 2009, napdognewfie from Cumberland, MD (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have had these for almost 40 years. They came from my friend's grandfather who got them many years before.

They just love my garden & grow enormous in no time. They get waist high when mature & tubers bigger than my hand. I dig them in the fall before or shortly after frost but tubers left in the ground will overwinter when it is mild (I have never seen one bloom after being left out). I put them in an onion bag after they are dug, clean & dry & store them in an unheated basement cupboard. They form babies which will sprout & grow tiny plants while still attached to the mother. They will reach blooming size in just a couple years.

They bloom before being planted out in the spring & get 1-3' tall burgundy red mottled "flowers" with long curling tongues. Very cool & prehistoric looking with the mottled stalks.

They really reek when they bloom. A box of them left forgotten in a basement cupboard will make your house smell like there is a dead deer or body down there (seriously). Carrying that same box outside with your face over them will make you gag even while holding your breath. They will then attract every fly within miles & be crawling with them. They only smell really bad for a day or so & then the flower shrivels, the leaf stalk appears & unfolds like an umbrella & the seeds form.

This is the 1st year I let the seeds mature. They must have 1000 seeds on them. I will harvest some in a few days to see if they sprout. They are brown & not at all colorful.

Does anyone know how to tell when the seeds are ripe or how approximately long it takes?

I can't believe anyone said they are rare. They are very easy for me.

Positive jlbol On May 8, 2009, jlbol from Puyallup, WA wrote:

I live in Puyallup, Wa and this plant blooms here in mid summer. I am sure because we are zone 7.

Positive Jim_Sarra On Mar 9, 2009, Jim_Sarra from Gilberton, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Been growing this since the early 1980's. Bought bulb at Philadelphia Flower Show. Took blooming bulb when visiting my Mother in Albert Einstein Hospital in Philadelphia. Doctors & nurses came from all over to see this 'Voodoo Bulb' (identified as Arum cornutum then). Forgot some bulbs outside my Zone 5 home 23 years ago and they've been coming back every spring. Bulbs get to about 5-inch diameter before blooming, producing small bulbs loosely attached to it each year, which can be divided. The spotted (mottled) brown & green stems, along with the tropical-looking leaves make for an attractive plant in the garden or in pots for the summer. I take some bulbs inside over winter & keep in cool areas for (perhaps) an earlier (February/March) bloom. No soil; no pot; hence the 'Voodoo' reference: the 'living' bloom sprouts from a 'dead' (unplanted, no roots, no water) bulb. Very interesting to watch it slowly form from a small sprout into a fatter, peanut-shaped living thing, getting fatter and taller until one day it opens up! The bloom can get well over a foot tall on this naked bulb, so I put in in a pot of sand to prevent it from falling over and can easily show off the 'Voodoo' by lifting it out of the sand. Roots nodes begin to form at that time and bulb can be potted, watered, & left to leaf out on a sunny windowill or wait until spring & plant it out. It's amazing how many flies appear from nowhere to pollinate this carrion-odor flower when it's outside. The strong odor (& flies) usually lasts only a day, but, then, this is the height of its' blooming activity as it dies down and collapses within a few more days. Most of the previous comments preceding mine are accurate. It's hard not to have success with it, pretty much grow it in any soil type without much regard to moisture/fertilizer. Full sun produces larger bulbs and plants. Enjoy!

Positive Liag On May 30, 2008, Liag from Buffalo, NY wrote:

I received 2 of these bulbs from Michigan Bulb just last month as replacements for something they'd run of. When I googled Voodoo Lily, I was delighted! Now, looking at all the pics here, I understand why it's called "Voodoo". It's like magick the many different and unusual forms this plant takes on. The foliage is sooo different from the stem and flower, I was having a difficult time believing I was looking at the same plant. One of my bulbs has begun to grow, the other has not. I am hopeful. I'll let everyone know how they do in Buffalo, NY. Also, I'm thankful for everyone's input here. I was going to bring the bulb into work to put in my office. Oh m'god if it had bloomed there!!

Positive burkeytj On Feb 17, 2008, burkeytj from Durant, IA wrote:

We have had these for about 7 years now. We have one right now and we're wondering if anyone has seen anything like this before. Our original one now is 35 lbs. and has a double bloom on it. Had two palms this summer and now this winter it has two blooms. Has anyone seen anything like this before? We have lots of baby's and 2 other 5 in. diameter ones.

Positive Alsigirl On Oct 31, 2007, Alsigirl from Marianna, AR wrote:

It took a lot of looking on the internet to identify this plant after seeing it growing outside the 14th St. bridge over Mill Creek in Salem, Oregon. I watched and admired it every time I walked to the store nearest my apartment and then, after it had flowered and made the seed pod, one of two stalks disappeared. I went to the owner of the property and he said the plant had been there for the several years he had lived there but he didn't know what it was and it had always been taken before it completely died down but always came back. What strikes me is that it is growing where the creek often floods and in fact, is between the creek and a stack of sandbags kept on site, yet hasn't washed out and apparently tolerates having periodic wet feet.

Positive Love13 On Aug 11, 2007, Love13 from Troy, MI wrote:

Purchased this plant four years ago, from a catalog, cannot remember which company. But I planted it out of doors, in the front of my home in a very protected area of other living plants.. It bloomed the first year and every year since, When it is getting ready to bloom, it begins to have an ordor, then when it is opening, (excuse the comment) but it stinks. Terribly..but its worth the smell to see the opening. This year after blooming it formed a pod, I left on the plant with many green seeds, but the green turned to orange and became very soft, So I cut it from the plant and now am drying it in the sun. but after reading your comment to plant the seeds quickly, I am now going to plant the seeds. This plant when in bloom attracts my neighbors and they come to watch it...
Victoria Z.

Neutral lsander153 On Aug 2, 2007, lsander153 from Pittsburgh, PA wrote:

My wife planted these in her flower garden, and they reproduced so prolifically that they became a nuisance. She pulled them out and threw them in the woods, where a number of them took root and multiplied. They're a very nice addition to our woods, where we just let them grow as they wish. Every year we have more of them. Somehow they multiply over distances, and we have small specimens growing various places in a 15' radius of the original "dumped" specimens. She doesn't like how they take over her garden, while I like the way they thrive in my woods, hence the Neutral rating.

Positive CLOUDBUSTER On Feb 3, 2007, CLOUDBUSTER from Chicago, IL wrote:

After having this bulb for approx. 8 years and putting it outside every spring, we finally had it flower. We brought it out earlier this year and when a sprout appeared we put it in a pot. The total height of the plant is 38". It grew an average of 2 inches per day. The flower is spectacular but very smelly. Does anyone know how to counteract the smell and how long the flower lasts?

Positive raydio On Jan 3, 2006, raydio from Bessemer City, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I have had no problem with these in the ground over winter. They weren't even very deep. A couple were an inch or less deep, but I don't advise it: they top-root so soil above the corm is needed.

I've had them produce seed and had a great germination results. Don't let the seeds dry out. I kept them moist and in the fridge for a little bit, trying to wait for better light in the spring. I had also cut the seed head off the plant as I was afraid frosts might damage it. I kept it in a glass of water for awhile.

The seed should come up quickly, some even sprout before planting!


Positive flowerchild1 On Apr 2, 2005, flowerchild1 from Trevor, WI wrote:

i got these bulbs caus they were a bazzaar way
............the guy running the booth at the home and garden show in chicao where i got them didnt have much info.,., so i am at your mercy...........right now, they are sitting on a plate in the water for 3 weeks
no dirt??.............let me know something......please

dont get me wrong, they look really cool but dont i have to plant them soon???

Positive corky59 On Oct 12, 2004, corky59 from Lakeland, FL wrote:

voodoo grows well here in lakeland fl. i have two of them in the shade, filtered light and got two huge plants this year. anxious to see blooms next season. corky ps. does anyone have a fertilizer for this plant?

Positive philh On Oct 10, 2004, philh from Oxford
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

Typhonium Venosum is a wonderful plant, it grows nicely in the british climate, though i've yet to actually plant out in the ground and i've just removed mine from their containers for winter storage, they are reportedly perfectly hardy here. Very easy to grow and propagates readily from offsets. If you enjoy these plants I would recommend investigation of certain Amorphophallus species.

Positive snowiteduv On Jun 14, 2004, snowiteduv from Lancaster, OH wrote:

moved into this house this plant came up first couple years only as foliage, then one year emerged as a "flower" that looked like it should be in a sci-fi movie. After it was done flowering 12 plants emerged, am moving soon, will divide and take one with me hopefully. I have never dug this plant up for the winter and it comes back every year. Wild looking plant.

Positive wchutka On Jun 5, 2004, wchutka from San Antonio, TX wrote:

My family has been growing this plant since the late 1950s early 1960s in Charleston, SC. Bought the first one a 5,10 $1 store (Woolworths, I think). I has now spread all over the garden; infact one just bloomed for my sister in Agusta, GA. I have brought several to San Antonio, TX to see how it will do here.

Positive kiplingjlr On Sep 6, 2003, kiplingjlr from Afton, VA wrote:

This is such a strange and beatiful plant. I'm glad to know what it is now. This the second year it has come up on it's own. I still don't know enough about it to really give any help.

Positive naynay On Jul 30, 2003, naynay wrote:

Plant the Voodoo late in May or End of second week in June. Cover the "teat" or "nub" with only 1 or 2 inches of soil. Water well until it breaks ground. Then we usually water weekly unless it is unusually hot. Japanese beetles love the leaves so be on the look out. Once the frost hits-and the "Tree" has fallen over-dig up the bulb. Wipe the dirt off with your hands. Place in a cardboard box and keep in the basement-not in garage-it may freeze. Ignore most of the winter. Check about February to see if it's growing. If your lucky and the bulb has stored enough food, you will get a flower that is the most beautiful thing but boy does it stink. Bad-rotting meat bad.

Positive MAllen On Jul 20, 2003, MAllen from Covington, LA wrote:

Great plant for the shade garden in the deep south. I grow them under large oaks. Naturalizes well and self seeds. Seeds can be gathered in the late summer at the base of the leaves, when the leaves die off. Seeds are usually red. Plants take 3 to 4 years to mature from seed increasing in size each year until the leaf is 3 feet tall and as wide. Always arouses interests in visitors. When transplanting, may need to be staked the first year due to shallow root system.

Positive delhi On Jun 13, 2002, delhi wrote:

Last summer, after moving into our (upstate NY) house the fall before, I noticed a strange stalk with green and cream mottled coloring, and leaves with a couple of cream colored lines on them in the middle of my garden. Along side it was a smaller one. Nothing happened, but I have to say when I saw it out of the corner of my eye the first time, I jumped a little. I thought it was a snake or something, then realized it was a plant. This spring it came up again and was a little larger. I gave it fertilizer for perennials along with the rest of my plants, and it grew quite nicely. A few weeks later I noticed a green spear-like rolled leaf jutting out the top. A week later, a shiny burgundy colored rod peeked out the top of it and the base just above the leaves had become bulbous. Yesterday it opened up and exposed the 8-10" slightly bumpy stamin? The edges of the 'rolled leaf' were ruffled and tinged with burgundy and inside it was totally burgundy colored all the way to the base where it turned mottled burgundy and green. I thought it might be related to the anthurium family. I emailed a picture to my sister and she looked it up in her botanical guide and told me it was Voodoo stick or lily. So I looked around on the internet and sure enough, there were pictures similar to mine. I went out to see if it smelled and when I got my nose down to it's level, sure stinks! I love it! I think it is neat and different! I will try to upload the picture.

Positive NATURAL On May 17, 2002, NATURAL wrote:

My wife and I purchased this plant at a garage sale 3 years ago. On the advice of the person we bought it from, I dug it up in the fall and stored it in a pot in a cold dark location in the basement. Each spring it was brought up and planted in the garden to grow into a very attractive and unusual looking plant. I was told it would flower in the spring, but until this point only ever saw what appeared to be the shrivelled and dried remains of a spindly flower when taking it out of hibernation. This year I made it a point of taking it out much earlier.
A small sprout had already started to form so I watered it well and placed it at the sliding doors of the basement among the rest of our tender plants near a closet door. Eventualy it grew to be approximately 20 inches tall and started to bulge at 3 inches from the soil. I received an excited phone call at work from my wife explaining that the two dogs we have went crazy when she took them into the basement to let them outside. The hair raised on their backs and they kept growling at the closet door. My wife was sure there was a weasel or possibly a mink (we have both visiting the backyard occasionaly)in the closet because of the strong odour in the basement. I told her not to do anything until I got home that night. A few minutes after receiving the phone call I remembered the stage of the flower and that the night before it had not opened yet. I called back and told my wife to check the flower and if it was open, to put it outside. Sure enough, the dogs settled down and the smell left the basement.
It is amazing to think that a plant could fool the dogs into thinking there was an animal in the house. I am looking forward to this plant growing again in our garden and next year's flower.

Neutral lupinelover On Apr 22, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is a definite oddity. Like most aroids, flowering is not assured each year. Single leaf stem emerges from each bulb; leaves very late to emerge in spring. Leaf stalk grows to 48". Stalk is dark green with purple blotches all over. Leaf is palmate, shaped more like a tiara. Flowering, if occurs, is finished before leaf grows. Flourishes best in shade.

Bulb migrates up and down in soil depending on life cycle; varies from 2" to 8" deep. New offsets produced annually.

Everyone who sees it pronounces it a "martian plant" and clamors for one.

Positive Evert On Sep 23, 2001, Evert from Helsinki
Finland (Zone 4b) wrote:

Great and unusual looking flower :) Also try growing the bigger species, like Amorphophallus rivieri (Hydrosme rivieri).


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

, (3 reports)
Birmingham, Alabama
Florence, Alabama
Marianna, Arkansas
Albany, California
August, California
Fountain Valley, California
San Jose, California
Santa Cruz, California
Apopka, Florida
Fort Mc Coy, Florida
Groveland, Florida
Largo, Florida
Navarre, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Palm Harbor, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Alto, Georgia
Barnesville, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Poplar Grove, Illinois
Rushville, Indiana
Wabash, Indiana
Bloomfield, Iowa
Durant, Iowa
Dayton, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Prospect, Kentucky
Covington, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Falmouth, Maine
Cumberland, Maryland
Parkville, Maryland
Allen Park, Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Troy, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Harrisonville, Missouri
Helena, Montana
Pennington, New Jersey
Bessemer City, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Wingate, North Carolina
Bay Village, Ohio
Beallsville, Ohio
Curtice, Ohio
Lancaster, Ohio
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Salem, Oregon
Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
Gilberton, Pennsylvania
Glassport, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Lafayette, Tennessee
Pocahontas, Tennessee
Sweetwater, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Irving, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
Utopia, Texas
Bountiful, Utah
Afton, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Puyallup, Washington (2 reports)
Seattle, Washington (2 reports)
Madison, Wisconsin
South Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Trevor, Wisconsin

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