Arisaema dracontium (L.) Schott


CC = 6
CW = -3
MOC = 63

© SRTurner

Family - Araceae

Habit - Perennial monoecious forb, from a corm.

Leaves - Usually solitary, to 1 m long, continuing to enlarge during growing season, the petiole stout, glabrous, and glaucous, the base sheathing. Leaflets 5-15, the largest leaflets to 25 cm long, elliptic to oblanceolate, attenuate.

Arisaema_dracontium_leaf1a.jpg Leaf.

© SRTurner

Arisaema_dracontium_leaf1b.jpg Leaf.

© SRTurner

Arisaema_dracontium_rachis.jpg Leaf rachis.

© SRTurner

Arisaema_dracontium_leaflet2.jpg Leaflet, abaxial.

© SRTurner

Arisaema_dracontium_leaflet2b.jpg Leaflet venation.

© SRTurner

Inflorescences - Solitary and terminal, the peduncle shorter than the leaf petiole. consisting of a dense spike (spadix) partially surrounded by a large, sheathing bract (spathe). Spathes 3-6 cm long, green, with a sharp bend toward the middle, the tip acute, tightly encircling the spadix. Spadices with an arched, long-tapered sterile tip extending up to 10 cm beyond the spathe. Spadices with upper band of staminate flowers and lower band of pistillate flowers.

Arisaema_dracontium_inflorescence1.jpg Inflorescence and leaf petiole.

© SRTurner

Arisaema_dracontium_inflorescence2.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Arisaema_dracontium_inflorescence3.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Tiny, densely arranged on spadix. Perianth none. Staminate flowers with 2-6 stamens, the filaments very short. Pistillate flowers with 1 superior ovary, more or less embedded in the spadix. Ovaries with 1 to several ovules. Styles none or very short.

Arisaema_dracontium_flowers.jpg Flowers.

The whitish staminate flowers in the upper band mostly consist of bare anthers. The greenish pistillate flowers are in the lower band, with a few showing a stigma visible as a small white dot.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Dense cylindric to subglobose cluster of berries, these bright red, 1.0-1.3 cm in diameter, with 1-3 seeds.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Bottomland and mesic forests.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - None.

Other info. - This well-known species is closely related to Jack-in-the-pulpit, and has a very similar inflorescence structure. It is found across Missouri, and ranges across the eastern half of the continental U.S. and into Canada. The plant is easily recognized, even when not in flower, by the distinctive shape of the leaves. In fact, the leaves are usually the part of the plant which is first seen and recognized, since the inflorescences are relatively inconspicuous. The compound leaf blades are bilaterally symmetrical, with each half typically consisting of 2-4 leaflets attached by thick stalks. The images above convey this better than words.

Green dragon makes an interesting and unusual garden subject for shaded areas of rich, constantly moist soils. The plant is somewhat toxic due to its content of calcium oxalate.

Photographs taken at Weldon Spring Conservation Area, St. Charles County, MO, 5-11-2010, along the Katy Trail near Treloar, Warren County, MO, 5-2-2020, and near Labadie, Franklin County, MO, 5-3-2020 (SRTurner).