The Greeks call the plant Drakondia, a name that refers to the romantic but tragic tale that many in the mountainous area of Crete still hold to be true.
It seems that a young Cretan lad was in love with a lovely young Cretan lass. Their respective families had maintained a wonderful and extended feud for as long as anyone on the mountain could recall. They were certainly proud that their feud had lasted longer than any other on the island.
The young couple, in secret, consulted a good witch. They told of their enduring love and wished to be united forever in spite of their respective and foolish feuding families.
They feared marrying in secret and moving to other parts of Crete for they knew that their respective families had family and business ties all over the island country.
The good witch shared an answer to their dilemma. The young man would become a spadix and grow, each year, wrapped within the arms of his bride who took the form of a maroon spathe. Maroon was their favorite color. No one would recognize them for the good witch cast a spell on the flower causing the Greeks to see that the spadix was a dragon that had been shrunken by an evil witch for his miscreant lifestyle.
The young couple remains together, he wrapped in the maroon arms of his bride, appearing once each year then dissolving into the mists of the evening for yet another year. How sweet.
The writer has three dracuncliasis vulgara plants. They are often called: *Dragon Arum, Dragonwort, Black Arum, Black Dragon, Black Lily, Ragons, Snake Lily and Voodoo Lily. Wort is a Middle English word for any plant (wyrt).
This unusual plant is one of the aroid plants. Others aroid plants include the calla lily, elephant ear, jack in the pulpit, arum lily, and arthurium. These all have the spathe, which is a modified leaf, and a spadix.
NEWS: Just today, March 14, 2013, the writer noticed that his Dracunculiasis vulgara has shot up about 6". Added June 1, 1013: Neighbor children came by to look at the dragon lily that had tiny beetles at the bottom of the spadix. They came to smell the rotten scent.
A miniature related flower is the mousetail arum (Arisaurum probossideum) hailing from Spain and Italy.
Hidden among the large, lush arrowhead-shaped leaves is flower that looks like a thin brown tail of a mouse.
The mouse appears in winter and remains until late spring.
Probossideum comes from the Greek for “elephant’s trunk."