Dracunculus vulgaris

Botanical Name:Dracunculus vulgaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Tribe: Areae
Genus: Dracunculus
Species: D. vulgaris

Common Names: Dragon Arum, the Black Arum, the Voodoo Lily, the Snake Lily, the Stink Lily, the Black Dragon, the Black Lily, Dragonwort, and Ragons.

Habitat:Dracunculus vulgaris is native to the Balkans, extending as far as Greece, Crete and the Aegean Islands, and also to the south-western parts of Anatolia.. It has been introduced to the United States and is currently present in the states of Oregon, California, Camano Island, Washington and Tennessee as well as the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

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Description:

Dragon arum is a tuberous herbaceous perennial plant that is native to rocky areas and hillsides in the central to eastern Mediterranean areas from Greece to the Balkans to Turkey. It typically grows to 3′ tall and features large, erect, fan-shaped, palmately-divided, dark green leaves (to 12″ long) that are often streaked with white. Each leaf has 9-15 finger-like lobes reportedly resembling in appearance the claw of a dragon, hence the common name. Leaves appear in clusters on a stalk-like, black/purple-spotted pseudostem. Large, foul-smelling, maroon-purple spathes (each to as much as 20″ long and 8″ wide) appear above the leaves in late spring/early summer. The foul odor of the spathes, sometimes described as akin to the nauseous aroma of rotten meat, attracts flies for pollinating the flowers. Each spathe envelops a central, upright, nearly black, tail-like spike (spadix) which is nearly as long as the spathe, but sometimes longer, with a diameter of only 1/2 to 3/4″. The spathe contains inconspicuous, hidden, unisexual flowers. Flowers are followed by green berries which mature to orange-red in fall. This plant is synonymous with and formerly called Arum dracunculus.
The species is characterised by a large purple spathe and spadix has a very unpleasant smell reminiscent of a carcass. That is because the pollinators of this aroid are flies (Lucilia and others).

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Cultivation:
Dracunculus vulgaris has been introduced to northern Europe, and North America, both to the United States, where it is present in the states of Kansas, Oregon, California, Washington, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and to Canada, where it has been grown in the province of Ontario.The plant can tolerate some shade but prefers full sun; it can also withstand drought but benefits from a little watering. The plant prefers a humus-rich, well-drained soil.

The plant can be easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, rich soils. Spreads by self-seeding and bulb offsets. Plants are not reliably winter hardy throughout the St. Louis area where mulch should be applied in winter to help protect them from cold temperatures. In cold winter areas north of USDA Zone 6, tubers may be dug up in autumn, overwintered indoors and replanted in spring in somewhat the same manner as dahlias.

Medicinal Uses:
Dioscorides thought it resembled a dragon. In ancient medicine it was used for the eyes and ears, for ruptures, convulsions and coughs.  Dioscorides says, “But being beaten small with honey, and applied, it takes away the malignancie of ulcers.”

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracunculus_vulgaris
http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/species/drvu.htm
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_DE.htm

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=d513

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