Botanical Name: Sauromatum venosum
A tall brown spathe that opens and peels back exposing the yellow spotted, purple interior. A tall purple spike is left standing. The flower smells of rotting flesh in order to attract flies for pollination.
The leaf stalk is green with purple blotches up and down it. The hand like leaf forms a the top of this stalk and is very tropical in appearance.
Multiple plants are required for pollination. If so, a cluster of red to purple fruits will form at the base of the flower.
This perennial bulb will push its spring flower first, then its summer foliage before dying to the ground come fall.
20-24" tall, but dying back to the ground every year.
Full sun to partial shade.
Parts of Africa and Asia
Noticeable odor of decaying flesh while in bloom. This odor attracts the insect pollinators, such as flies. The flower is short lived and, once gone, so is the odor. The foliage then emerges and can be enjoyed, stench free, all summer long.
Description: Many years ago, my friend, Peter Tabol, gave me three bulbs of what turned out to be Sauromatum venosum, Voodoo Lily. As the years passed, these multiplied, but it took me quite a while to find out exactly what the correct botanical name was. An article in one of the trade magazines, combined with a picture, gave me the information I needed.
These Voodoo Lilies grow from a bulb that is hardy, with some mulching, in Zone 6 and perhaps in Zone 5B. In spring, flowers emerge which are approximately 12 to 18 inches tall, patterned, and rather weird looking - purple with yellow spots. These peel back like a snake skin. After flowering, the single stem (occasionally two or three) arises from the bulb. The stem is blotched with green and black dots, and a handlike leaf forms on the top. A group of these planted together makes a rather spectacular sight.
One drawback of this plant is that since it is pollinated by flies, the flowers have a stench that is somewhat like rotting flesh - the odor lasts only about a day or two. Therefore, it is best planted somewhere away from close human habitation.
Although it appears to be hardy, I dig at least some of our bulbs in the fall and store them in a cold storage each winter just to make sure we have surviving stock. The plant propagates itself mainly from small bublets that are formed around the top of the large bulb, as well as from seeds. We have them volunteering here and there around our yard at this time.
Voodoo Lily is a novelty plant for the avid gardener. We are selling the bulbs now. Try a few - they are really fascinating.