T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Dracunculus vulgaris (Dracula's flower)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Tribe: Areae
Genus: Dracunculus
Species: D. vulgaris
Binomial name: Dracunculus vulgaris
Common name: Dracula's flower, Dragon Arum, Black Arum, Voodoo Lily, Snake Lily, Stink Lily, Black Dragon, Black Lily, Dragonwort, Ragons, Wake robin, Dragon's tongue, Stink Lily.

  All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested and touching the plant may result in skin irritation or an allergic reaction. The poison compounds are fatty acid methyl esters.

Dracunculus vulgaris belongs to the family Araceae and is related to the well-known Arum genus. It is endemic to the East Mediterranean, from Greece, the Balkans to SW-Turkey.
What looks like a flower is a large very deep purple-black bract (spathe) that envelopes that unfolds to reveal a long, black appendage from the center, known as the spadix. The spadix (a spike inflorescence that bears numerous flowers). The spanda is usually not longer than 40 or 50 cm. The male and female are flowers deep inside the spathe which features a bulbous chamber.
The Dracunculus vulgaris's namesake (Dracula's flower) comes from its unique appearance of its black spadix, entwined by a purple spathe that resemble Dracula's cape.Dracunculus vulgaris inflorescence has a very unpleasant smell reminiscent of rotting meat which attracts flies and beetles (Lucilia, Staphylinid, Scarabidinid and others) as pollinators. They enter the spathe tube and gain access to the flowers by descending the spadix appendix and pollinated them. They are temporally trapped by the smooth surfaces that stops them climbing out. Fertilisation occurs when they crawl over the stigmas dusting them with pollen from other Dracunculus vulgaris plants that they have visited. After a few days the spathe withers and they escape to continue their pollinating. Once pollination is complete, the smell stops.
The large green palmate leaves have occasional cream flecks along the veins. This plant species can vary in overall size, in the degree of leaf division and in leaf markings shapes.
The stalks are actually pseudostems (false stems made of the rolled bases of leaves) that can grow to 1.5m tall. They are alight-grey-green with numerous irregular dark patterns along their length.
Berries are produced after flowering and later drop to they ground to self seed or are carried away by water or when soil is removed and dumped else where. It also spreads by bulb offsets.

 

   

The patterned pseudostems.
  

One of the various leaf forms