The voodoo lily (Dracunculus vulgaris) is a wildflower native to the Balkans and other European regions. You may also know it by the names stink lily or dragon lily. The dramatically dark blossom is the part of the plant that attracts the most attention.
The Greeks call this plant "drakondea" (dragon flower). It earned the name stink lily because its flower produces a rotting meat smell to attract the carrion-eating flies that perform its pollination.
The ruffled, deep maroon flower is not a true flower, but a lipped spathe similar to the calla lily. A long black spadex sticks out of the flower like a spiked tongue. The leaves are fan-shaped and arranged in sets of three. The stem has a snakeskin-like pattern.
The voodoo lily bulb is hardy to Zone 5 and prefers well-drained soil. It grows in full sun or part shade, but the blooms last longer in the shade.
The voodoo lily produces a seed head that looks like a cluster of red berries. It makes new plants through self-seeding and bulb offsets.
Despite the pungent odor and toxins in the leaves, voodoo lilies are processed as food in parts of southeastern Asia.
- Marin County Cooperative Extension
- University of Washington Botanic Gardens
voodoo lily, stink lily, Dracunculus vulgaris
About this Author
Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.