Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; moist, rich woods, thickets, flood plains|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||1 to 3 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A single greenish yellow flower head (spadix) enclosed in a light green sheath (spathe) that is occasionally splotched with purple. The spathe is cylindrical, 1¼ to 2½ inches long and barely open at the front. The lower part of the spadix, inside the spathe, holds the tiny male and/or female flowers, the stamens of the male flowers pale yellow. Female flowers, when present, are below the male flowers.
The upper part of the spadix curves out of the top of the spathe then rises 4 to 10 inches in a long taper to a pointed tip, and is mostly erect. The flower structure sits at the end of a naked stem 6 to 10 inches long.
Leaves and stems:
A single palmately compound basal leaf is at the end of a stout, 1 to 2 foot stem, rising above the flower. The 5 to 13 leaflets are each 3 to 10 inches long, 1 to 4 inches wide, generally oblong-elliptic or wider above the middle, toothless, hairless, pointed at the tip, stalkless or short stalked. There is a continuous vein around the edge of a leaflet, creating a border effect. The leaflets are arranged along one side of the stem and hold parallel to the ground.
Fruit is an oval cluster of oblong to pear-shaped berries that turn bright red in late summer.
A rare species in Minnesota, Green Dragon was listed as a state Special Concern species in 2013 due to its low populations, limited geographic range in the state, and the risk of loss of its specialized habitat (primarily floodplain forest) from development and invasive species. While its bright red fruit is similar to the related Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), the flower and leaves are different enough to easily distinguish the two.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dodge County.
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