Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dracunculus vulgaris

One of my favorite 'odd' plants is Dracunculus vulgaris. I think it is related to the Amorphophallis types since it has the same mottled stem and seems to come up almost overnight. The foliage on this one is variegate with a creamy stripe down each leaf segment. The plants comes up as soon as the weather warms and it seems like I have to wait forever for the spathe to appear. It starts out green with just a purple lip.

As it starts to open, you see the purple inside and the center where the pollen is appears.

As it continues to open the color deepens and gets more velvety and the center gets larger. It doesn't take long for the flies that pollinate it to appear. As gorgeous as it is, it does have one drawback. In order to attract the flies for pollination, instead of a sweet smell like most flowers, it smells like rotted meat. Not just a little, but from many feet away and quite strongly.

This is about all the way out. The bloom lasts only a few days and then just kind of melts away. Mine has made some offsets for the first time this year (we've had it for at least 5 or 6 years) so next year I will divide it. It likes full sun and very well drained soil and definitely attracts attention in the garden.

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