Sauromatum venosum, the Voodoo Lily, was previously named Typhonium venosum, has jumped back and forth between these two names and has also had a large number of other taxonomic synonyms over the years. Native to a wide geographical region from Africa across to China, this stunning aroid is one of the hardiest of all the exotic aroids and with good drainage, will thrive in most British gardens in a warm sunny spot. A very tropical-looking aroid, it has extravagant exotic foliage - mid-green with a slight blueish haze - that is highly phototropic leaning dramatically towards the direction the light is coming from.
In the late spring/early summer, the Voodoo Lily's extraordinary inflorescence, like some glossy grey-purplish-black horn, pokes out of the ground, growing rapidly, almost visibly, and it doesn't stop growing until it is about 2 or more feet tall, when, with its elongated poker-like tip and bulbous egg-timer shaped base, all resting on a short white lilac spotted stalk, it looks not unlike the horns of some emerging subterranean devil.
A large clump of these is particularly effective. As the spathe unfolds it reveals an intense black spadix which remains prominently and suggestively erect like a sinister black antennae while the spathe continues to fold back, displaying its internal pattern of rich purplish brown and pus-coloured yellow with a distinctly velvet sheen.
The spathe continues to unfurl over several days until it rests flaccid like a long mottled tongue, emitting a delightful fragrance which some people unkindly liken to rotten flesh but I personally think is more a strong melange of curry plant and fecal matter. After flowering, large clumps of dark purple seeds form, held aloft above the ground.
An easy and highly rewarding hardy aroid, Sauromatum venosum is an ideal choice for a jungle planting: hardy throughout the UK, it develops into a sizeable clump and during its summer growing season it makes a dramatic impression through its foliage alone. Add to that the extraordinary inflorescence followed by the unusual seedpods and you have a very special plant.
|Synonyms||Typhonium venosum, Sauromatum guttatum, Sauromatum pedatum, Alocasia pedata , Arum cornutum, Arum clavatum, Arum fugax, Arum guttatum, Arum pedatum, Arum sessiliflorum, Arum simlense, Arum venosum, Desmesia venosum, Jaimenostia fernandopoana, Sauromatum abyssinicum, Sauromatum angolense, Sauromatum nubicum, Sauromatum pulchrum, Sauromatum punctatum, Sauromatum sessiliflorum, Sauromatum simlense|
|Geographical Origin||Central tropical Africa, through Southern Arabia, Yemen, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Myanmar, China|
|Cultivation||Full Sun. Well-drained but moist humus-rich soil. Keep it well mulched|
|Eventual Height||1-1.25 m|
|Eventual Spread||2 m|
|Hardiness||Tubers are hardy in most of the UK. Survives down to -20 C|
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