For spooky October we are featuring one of our plants with a spooky name. It is called the Voodoo Lily. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is home to many animals but we are also very involved in cultivating plants from our animals’ wild habitat. You can see some of these plants with the animals in their habitats or you can see them in our Victorian Greenhouse. Many of the plants are endangered just like the animals
Description: This plant is known mostly as an ornamental plant despite the fact that is can emit a terrible odor that is similar to the smell of rotting meat. Its leaves are large, green and tropical in appearance.
The Voodoo Lily has a globe-shaped bulb with a diameter of 3 to 6 inches that can produce numerous annual offshoots. It can grow to a height of up to 30 inches from its underground corm to its top. The corm is a rounded, thick underground stem base bearing membranous or scaly leaves and buds and acting as a vegetative reproductive structure. It is somewhat like a plant bulb.
When flowering, this striking plant unfolds its large sheathing bract, or spathe, which is a rich purplish brown with yellow specks, It folds back revealing a prominent black spike, or spadix, of minute flowers closely arranged around a fleshy axis. The flowers emerge from the floral stem before the leaves. The flowers are a purplish-brown-spotted, with yellowish specks.
The reason why it is called the Voodoo Lily is because it has the ability to flower from a corm without any soil or water.
Range: Native to upland temperate and tropical areas of Africa and Asia
Habitat: Primarily found in evergreen forests and meadows by rivers
Family Life: This plant is fly-pollinated so the scent of rotting meat is vital to the plant’s propagation. After flowering, large clumps of dark purple seeds form, held aloft above the ground.
Life Span: Varies greatly based on habitat.