Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Oooo oooo that smell"

I was on my daily walk today and 5 houses away from home I knew that my Dranunculus vulgaris (a voodoo lily, a type of arum) was in bloom. How did I know? Voodoo lilies are not for the faint-of-heart gardener. These exotic, gorgeous flowers (to my eye at least) are fly pollinated. Which means...they smell. Bad. The bigger the flower, the badder the smell (IMHO and experience). Voodoo lilies (which can be from the Dranunculus, Saromatum, or Amporhophallus species, among others) are relatives of the skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) are also called corpse plants or carrion flowers. It is also a relative of the tallest flower on earth, A. titanium, one that causes longs lines at conservatories when it is in bloom. I think they smell like across between fresh manure, rotting dead animal and garbage (don't plant them too near your house or under windows!). But they pass the "totally cool" test for me! The second photo above shows the arrival of the flies. The flower bloom time is short and the "scent" fades after the first 24 hours. The plant produces lovely (and unscented) spikes of exotic green leaves, adding a tropical look to the shade garden, that last all season. It is generally care free. I got this new variety from Brent and Becky's Bulbs in Gloucester, VA (but don't judge this bulb company by this one plant- they have excellent flowering bulbs that smell way nicer!)
Happy gardening!

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