Dracunculus vulgaris Schott is the correct and accepted scientific name for this plant. It was first described as such by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott in Meletemata Botanica in 1832 It was first described as Arum dracunculus by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.
According to the Plant List (2013 version), there are 12 synonyms for the Dracunculus vulgaris. The genus Dracunculus contains only two accepted species, Dracunculus canariensis and Dracunculus vulgaris.
I bought my Dracunculus vulgaris from an Ebay seller in the spring of 2010.
Dracunculus have neat palmately-divided, fan-shaped leaves growing on top of a petiole. Each leaf, up to 10” long, grows 7-19 elliptical leaflets supposedly resembling the claws of a dragon (in someone’s mind). Leaves are sometimes streaked with white (which are transparent). The petiole, or pseudostem, is black or purple spotted. Unlike the Amorphophallus, more than one leaf grows from each pseudostem.
Although mine never flowered, they have a long maroon-purple spathe that can grow up to 20” long. The smell is said to resemble rotten meat which attracts flies for pollination and may last just one day. The spadix is black which is sometimes longer than spathe. It contains unisexual flowers, with the female at the bottom and the male on top.
Plants should be mulched for winter protection in USDA Zones 7-11. In cooler zones, the bulbs should be dug up and stored in a cool dark place such as a basement. I think if you grow them in pots you just bring the whole pot inside.
TYPE: Tuberous herbaceous perennial
ORIGIN: Central and eastern Mediterranean
SIZE: It may depend on your location, some websites say 2-3’ tall and others 3-6 feet tall.
ZONES: USDA Zones 5b-9b (-15 to 25 °F), some websites sat 7-10. Plants should be mulched for winter protection. North of zone 6, bulbs should be dug and stored inside.
LIGHT: Part shade to sun
SOIL: Average, well-drained soil with medium moisture.
FLOWERS: Maroon/purple in late spring to early summer (MBG says June-July)
PROPAGATION: By dividing bulbs, by seed.
*This plant is reported to be poison if ingested, so you may want to use gloves when working with it. Be sure to wash your hands.
Regretfully, I left my Dracunculus behind when I moved from Mississippi back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013. I sold the mansion to a group who turned it into a bed and breakfast. I have often wondered what became of this plant. You can bet one day I will buy another.
If you have any comments or suggestions, I would love to hear from you.