A Plant with Dragon’s Breath?

Summer blooms are beginning to prosper, and one of the most unusual plants I have come across is the Dragon’s Arum (Dracunculus vulgaris). It’s a humungous, dark purple colored bloom with this giant, thick, long thing sticking out of it. No wonder it’s also called Dragon’s Tongue. As part of its scientiful nomenclature suggests, yes, it’s rather vulgar looking.


Upon doing some research on the Dragon Arum, I discovered a few interesting facts about the plant. The first part of its scientific name, Dracunculus, is Latin for “a small dragon.” The second part of its name, vulgaris, does not mean vulgar, but rather “commonplace,” and is the name usually given to the the most common species in a genus. Other names given to the plant are: Dragonwort, Dragon Flower, Dragon’s Tongue, Wake Robin, Black Lily, Voodoo Lily, and, yes, Viagra lily.

Another very interesting fact about this plant is that it is pollinated by flies, not bees. When ready for pollination, it releases a smell similar to rotting meat. And yes, I did smell a putrid odor when getting near it. It really did reek of something like rotting garbage—so much so that it was attracting tons of flies. Yuck! That explains the pollination by flies. When finished with pollination, the odor disappears. If you look closely at the next image, you can see the flies on the bloom.



This image gives a different angle, and looking at it one can see why it is called Dragon’s Tongue. With a bit of a stretch of the imagination, I can see it looking like a fire-spitting dragon.


All photos property of Peggy A Thompson

About northwestphotos

A long time resident of Washington State, located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest USA. I enjoy regional travel, exploring all the wondrous, natural settings that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. If you get a chance, visit my Northwestphotos Zazzle store, http://www.zazzle.com/northwestphotos.
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17 Responses to A Plant with Dragon’s Breath?

  1. There is so much to be amazed by in this world…

  2. Gunta says:

    Not something I’d want to plant in my garden! What a very bizarre plant, but an interesting find.

  3. Where is Georgia O’Keeffe, now that we need her? Viagara lily?

  4. LaNae says:

    That is so disgustingly cool!! 🙂

  5. An interesting find, Peggy. I think I’m quite happy just to see it on my screen. I certainly wouldn’t like to smell it. 🙂

  6. Roscoe says:

    My aunt had one of these in a side yard. I remember her showing it to me and it was almost covered in green flies. And the odor was truly like rotting flesh. Having lived in the country and been to war, I’ve smelled everything from large dogs on the side of the road, to dead cows in pasture to NVA. I regret that I didn’t ask her anything about it; where she got it or it’s seeds, and how long she had had it. Easily one of the most impressive plants I’ve ever seen. Just not in a good way.

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