Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Arisaema
Family:Araceae (Arum)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Status:
  • State Special Concern
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular

[photo of flowers] 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.

[photo of spathe and spadix] 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: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] 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: Fruit type: berry/drupe

Fruit is an oval cluster of oblong to pear-shaped berries that turn bright red in late summer.

Notes:

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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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dodge County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: k. Ibberson - Steele County
on: 2015-05-20 17:25:39

Noted several plants today (5-20-15) in Kaplan's Woods in Owatonna Mn near the Straight River. Just coming into flower on about 12-18 inches tall plants.

Posted by: S. Pomonis - Eagan/Dakota Cnty-private property/conservation easement
on: 2015-06-14 14:29:55

6/15/15 -These plants have been growing for 3 years now and seem to be spreading nicely.

Posted by: B Gross - Rochester
on: 2015-07-15 12:55:05

Seen many of these plants in the woods and on the hillside of my backyard in Rochester MN.

Posted by: b sample - Minneapolis, north of Minnehaha Park
on: 2016-08-19 08:04:23

Many, many plants growing in a shady area of the garden.

Posted by: wg - Fergus Falls
on: 2016-09-07 18:11:28

We have two of these plants that just appeared in our perennial bed under oak trees at the edge of woodlands. The clusters of berries are stunning! We've been here almost 20 years, and this is the first time we've seen them.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-09-07 19:10:57

WG, in all likelihood what you have is the related jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, which has similar berries. Check the county distribution map to see where green dragon is found in MN.

Posted by: Ted M - wright county
on: 2017-09-08 09:17:35

several green dragons in my woods this year 2017

Posted by: Sandra arseth - Minneapolis
on: 2019-09-12 17:00:48

I have it growing in my front yard. It took a few years but now they are aplenty and spreading. Would like to share some for the digging to spread this wonderful plant that is amazing to watch grow and thrive.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-09-12 20:35:10

Sandra, you should get in touch with Wild Ones Twin Cities. I'm sure their members would be interested.

Posted by: Marshall Midden - Maple Grove
on: 2020-05-27 12:10:40

Squirrels like to dig the bulbs up ... Only one plant left in the yard this year (2020).

Posted by: Sonja Kosler - Dent
on: 2020-08-10 17:59:01

I have 2 of these in a flower bed near volunteer jacks. There is no spath and the stems are spotted. Could they be something other than green dragon?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-08-12 06:01:49

Sonja, green dragon doesn't naturally occur in Otter Tail County, but if you would like confirmation on your suspect plant, you can post an image on the Minnesota Wildflowers Facebook page.

Posted by: Sonja Kosler - Dent
on: 2020-08-19 13:46:29

My mystery plant has been confirmed by DNR botanist as Arisaema dracontium I sent photos of leaves and stems. They are in a wet then moist area near volunteer Jack in the Pulpit. I am still a bit puzzled and amazed.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-08-19 15:50:17

Sonja, I, too, am puzzled and amazed, but happy for you. :-)

Posted by: Alan Straka - Olmsted County
on: 2021-03-30 16:41:27

I was surprised these are rare. I planted one in a sunny spot and the thing has spread like crazy. I have been pulling them out and throwing them away. I planted some in the shade and they have not done well.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-03-30 18:16:13

Alan Straka, it seems odd that it would do well in sun and poorly in shade, since it's natural habitat is moist and shady. Perhaps your soil conditions are the reason, or maybe it's not actually green dragon that you're pulling out.

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