Voodoo Lily

June 27th, 2011 by: cheyenne

We had these crazy plants spring up out of nothing right after we moved in. They grew insanely fast and had cool succulent-like speckly patterned stalks and wavy fanned leaves. The neighbor told us to “pull it out; the flowers smell really bad.” We have one in the front next to our steps and if I pulled it out, it would have revealed the unattractive rhododendron stump and some ancient paint chips, probably loaded with poisonous lead. I made the conclusive choice to leave the plants be when I saw baby ones at a local nursery. I figured that if people paid big bucks for the things, they have to be good.

They grew tall. They grew lushly. Then they started to form long flower spikes. OH BOY!

Very body-snatcher looking.

And finally, it opened!

I at last looked them up and they are Dracunculus Vulgaris, commonly called “Voodoo Lily,” among many other names (that’s the coolest so we’ll stop there). The flies, as you can see, love them.

And it really does stink. Everything I’ve read about them say that the smell lasts a day and then goes away but they lie, unless there is another bloom hidden in the foliage there somewhere. It’s been days and I still catch wafts of it now and again from across the yard. It does savage battle with the neighbor’s giant honeysuckle on a nightly basis (planted, no doubt, to counteract the decaying varmint smells coming from my yard). I thought about cutting off the drooping flower but then I saw how it was supposed to mature into these big orangy berry things, and now I have to wait it out. The one by my front door just went off yesterday so we’ve kept the door shut. The mail lady probably thinks a raccoon croaked under my front porch.

In very pleasant-smelling flowerdom, allow me to introduce the pale pink/yellow peony:

which smells awesome, and the dark pink, which smells curiously like chocolate peppermint:

7 Comments on “Voodoo Lily”

  1. annmarie says:

    great!interesting! but where are the pictures of Ronin!!! by the way Tom and Keely are goin to TX to visit with grampa on the 6th of julyfor 5 days. the 3 sibs in TX say grampa is slowin WAY down…

  2. melissa says:

    That plant is amazing!

  3. cheyenne says:

    Our friend came over today and told us, “I hate to say it, but I think you might have a dead animal under your porch.” !!

  4. vida says:

    i love this post! you continue to dazzle me with your words. i have no words. perhaps they went the way of sleep. Zzzzz. Mmmm, stinky flower.

  5. Peg Bowden says:

    I was just reading about this plant, and apparently the noxious odor just lasts for one day. Hmmmm….I hope that your flower is now emanating a more neutral smell. –Mom

  6. James Schrecengost says:

    We have these, they propagate very well, too well. We love ’em! I like the other name I was told – the Vulgar Dragon.

  7. Penny Krueger says:

    I bought a house a year and half a ago, 1 week before Christmas. Shortly after we moved in, my 22 year old cat’s health had declined that I had to put her to sleep. I know, you are wondering where this is coming from…bare with me. In February we buried her in the back yard. As spring came into action I noticed this plant growing where we had buried my cat. I thought it was interesting and really liked it. However, every time I went around the plant I smelled decay. I always thought to myself, how odd that my cat’s decaying body I would smell. Now, a year later that same plant/flower grew back. Still not know what kind of plant I again smelled that odor. And thought again, 14 months later I’m still smell my cat. I posted the picture on my Facebook page. And within 1 day I had an answer as to what that plant/flower is, the Voodoo Lily. Thanks to my Aunt Judy who knew someone that knew! And now I know where the decay smell comes from!

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell