Arum Cornutum

Interesting Facts about the Arum Cornutum

            That shady spot in your yard cries out for color and beauty, and a plant called Arum Cornutum may be just the one to fit the bill.  More familiarly known as a Voodoo lily, this shade loving plant has some very interesting characteristics with which a gardener should become familiar.



            In appearance, the lily is often mistaken for an exotic, tropical plant.  In fact, the lily is quite easy to grow, with some areas of the world reporting them to grow as abundantly and freely as weeds.  It is considered to be a native plant in the Mediterranean regions; Europe, Greece, the Balkans and Southwest Turkey.  USDA growing zones of 5 through 8 have great success in growing this plant.

            The lily is a flowering plant which grows from a corm, or bulb.  The Voodoo lily has an unusually large bulb, and it requires no soil, water or sun to encourage the bulb to begin to grow.  In fact, it doesn’t even require a container.  A bright spot will be all that is needed to see the stem emerge.  The bloom period for the lily is anywhere from mid-spring to late summer, although like most bulbs, it can be forced to bloom outside of the normal.

            Showy blooms are typical for Arum Cornutum plants.  If fact, it is likely to be one of the most unusual flowering bulbs that a gardener will have in their flower bed; truly worthy of its nickname, the “Voodoo” plant.   One long stem protrudes from the bulb, stretching out at an odd angle before reaching upwards to the sky; resembling a long, purplish pointing finger.  An eggplant type shape appears at the base of the foot long spiked stem, from which magenta colored leaves curl outward.  Creamy yellow speckles sometimes adorn the curling leaves, which do straighten out to provide a striking cravat for the stem.

            One of the biggest secrets that become the best known trademark of the voodoo lily is its scent.  Some lilies are sweetly scented, such as the Oriental lilies, calla lilies or trumpet lilies.  First time growers of the voodoo lily will be somewhat dismayed when they lean in to sniff the flower in high anticipation of its perfume and are greeted instead by the stench of rotting meat.   Incredibly, the smell is a necessary one; used to attract pollinators that are carrion feeders, such as flies.  After the first day or so of blooming, the scent fades away completed.  Many gardeners who marvel at the eerie beauty of the Arum Cornutum simply introduce the plant to areas that will not reach the nose.

            After blooming, the voodoo lily transforms; losing its exotic loveliness and becoming more functional looking with the development of a seed head.  The plant can propagate itself by dispersing its seeds, so if free spread is not desired of this plant, take care to gather the seed head before it ripens and falls.  Ground insects such as ants or beetles will carry the seeds away, stowing them below the ground in their habitats; thereby assisting in the propagation.

            Due to its toxic nature, it is advisable to keep the bulbs and stem away from pets and children.  In some countries, an edible starch is coaxed from the root through a repeated cooking and pounding process that is used for cooking.

            Despite the disgusting odor of the plant for the first day or so of blooming, and the undesirable insect element that is attracted to it during that time, the voodoo lily or Arum Cornutum continues to be a sought after addition to many a garden because of its uniquely lovely, although eerie, presence.