You can grow a corpse lily in your garden!
Let’s begin by looking at a common PacNW corpse lily, Dracunculus vulgaris. You may know it as a voodoo lily. And, to be clear, this one isn’t edible (to our knowledge, but we’ll get edible ones in a sec). Dracunculus vulgaris is, however, very easy to cultivate. And, once you have this dragon lily growing, it’s tough to eradicate.
How will a Dracunculus grow in your garden?
Site this towering perennial where you can admire its visual voodoo. And, expect it to bloom sometime around May or June. But, choose a spot where you won’t choke on its awful aroma. Still, don’t worry, it only stinks for a day or two. But, it will attract flies to pollinate the flowers. However, after the stink, the gorgeous flower fades fast.
Later in autumn, the pollinated spathe becomes a club-sized knob of bright orange berries. And those will scatter and spread in your garden. So, be careful to collect those seeds. Otherwise, you may have stinkers popping up in unwanted places.
What about one I can grow for food?
Amorphophallus konjac is similar to Dracunculus. And, it is a close cousin to the giant Amorphophallus titanum corpse lily you’ve seen in greenhouses. But, it may be more difficult to find konjac than it is to find Dracunculus. That’s because it is under-used in North America. However, it is available if you shop carefully. And, it may take years to cultivate this plant to harvest.
So, for real, I can eat this corpse lily?
Yep! The root of the Amorphophallus konjac corpse lily is edible. And, it has been eaten for centuries in Asia. Often it is served sliced in a jelly form. However, you’re probably more familiar with it’s noodle form. That’s because they’re sold as shirataki noodles. Or, they may be called yam noodles. But, these corpse lily noodles are pretty much nothing but fiber.
Tell me more about this corpse lily for my garden!
Growing this cousin of the giant Amorphophallus titanum is fairly simple. But, A. konjac does require patience. That’s because it will probably take a few years before your plant will bloom. But, once they do bloom, their deformed penis flowers didn’t disappoint. Yep, that’s what the botanical name implies in the Amorphophallus genus.
And, hey, if you want to learn more about cool plants like this, botanical Latin, or if you just want to grow your gardening skills with a knowledgable guide to help you, sign up nw to be notified as soon as we open enrollment for our online gardening classes and LIMITED group garden coaching club program!
Plus, once this plant blooms, the smell isn’t nearly as bad as it’s European Dracunculus cousin. Unfortunately, konjacs don’t emerge from the soil in our area until it’s almost summer. And, just because they bloom one year doesn’t mean they’ll bloom again the next.