A different kind of lily…

Hello everyone,

Today I would like to talk about a plant, commonly called as voodoo lily. When you heard the word lily, people think about something pleasant smelly, colourful plant. Well, not this time…

This plant is commonly called as voodoo lily or Sauromatum venosum, Arum cornutum or Arum venosum. It’s actual binomial name is Typhonium venosum, and in fact this species is an aroid, not a true lily.  What!?!?! An aroid? So what is an aroid?

Aroid is the common name for members of the Araceae family of plants, sometimes known as the Philodendron or Arum family. The sometimes beautiful and sometimes bizarre combination of spathe and spadix known as the inflorescence, and sometimes referred to as a “flower”, is a distinguishing feature of all aroids. The densely flowered spadix is subtended by a spathe, a modified leaf that protects the spadix and is often important in pollination. The flowers on the spadix are pollinated by flies and beetles that are attracted by the sometimes foul scents, or by bees attracted by sweet scents. Heat occasionally plays a role in pollination. That is, the spadix increases in temperature to volatilize scents which in turn attract insects. Skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, which may even melt its way through snow, is known for heat production in its spadix. The varying colors of the spathe and the spadix may also play an important role in pollination.

– International Aroid Society

It is a truly unique plant with some unique features, that is why I had to acquire one. Its flower is fascinating me as much as bad it can smell (cow manure, rotting flesh, or a dirty wet dog) luckily the scent last for up to 2-3 days only, but this plant definitely shouldn’t be kept indoors during that time. Sometimes I think, I am too crazy with my hobby.


For now the plant doesn’t look anything special. A bulb and shoot. It will take a bit more time to flower so I decided to plant it now.

I have put normal garden soil, mixed with old/used soil and covered the bulb 5-6 cm deep. Interesting to me that roots will come out from the top of the bulb and not from the bottom like in case of many bulb plants (amaryllis, hyacinth). If you watch carefully you also see a blog/gardening fan on the balcony…

Common blackbird (Turdus mercula)

But going back to the plant. It a plant from temperate and tropical Africa and Asia and it can grow up to 50 cm. Eventually it will need a quite large pot, unless you keep it in your garden. As I already mentioned it has a strong foul smell during flowering to attract pollinators like calliphorid flies and silphid beetles. If you ask yourself, after knowing all this, why this plant is called voodoo lily, the answer is because of its ability to flower from a corm without soil and water. Still, I have decided to pot it, hopefully it will produce small bulbs on the side!

For now that is all I can share with you, but if you follow my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/explorebotany) there I will share some picture when it will start blooming and lucky for you, there won’t be any smell!

As always, thank you for reading! Hope I could show you an unique plant today!





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