Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Green Dragon - Arisaema dracontium   (L.) Schott
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Section 5 » Order Arales » Family Araceae
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Author(L.) Schott
DistributionFound across all of the eastern and central Piedmont, and present over most of the western Coastal Plain. Also present in most of the southern mountains and remainder of the Piedmont. Absent from the Sandhills proper, much of the eastern Coastal Plain, and the northern mountains.

This is a widespread Eastern species, ranging from southern Canada to central FL and central TX. It is scarce in much of the Coastal Plain.
AbundanceInfrequent to locally fairly common over the central and eastern Piedmont and the western Coastal Plain, where mainly found along large brownwater rivers. Uncommon in the southwestern Piedmont and southern mountains. Quite rare in the central Coastal Plain. This website has downgraded the State Rank from NCNHP's S3S4 to a recommended S4S5, as it is quite widespread in the Piedmont and western Costal Plain.
HabitatThis is primarily a bottomland hardwood species, along brownwater rivers and larger streams in their floodplains. Only rarely does it grow in upland forests, and then only in very rich or high pH soils.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Wet-Mesic Hardwood Forests
PhenologyBlooms from May into June, and fruits from July to August.
IdentificationWhen in bloom, the species is quite striking and unusual. The stem grows to 2-2.5 feet high, and it is topped by a semi-circle of leaves off the horizontally branched stem. Each of the mostly 7-13 leaves is narrowly elliptical and about 5 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, and they are also held horizontally and spreading outward from the semi-circle of the branched stem (looking fan-shaped when viewed from above). Coming off near the stem base is the flowering stalk, reaching up to about 2 feet tall, with the very long white spadix extending far beyond the spathe like a vertical narrow tongue. This spadix, growing to about 3-5 inches long, is truly unique in our flora and immediately identifies the plant from any other. However, there is another Arisaema species that can somewhat resemble Green Dragon in vegetative character. Arisaema quinatum usually has 5 "leaves", with actually three leaves but the outer two being divided somewhat lengthwise so as to appear like leaves. At first glance, such a plant can resemble a Green Dragon, which rarely has as few as 5 leaves. Certainly, when in bloom, the two are quite different, as the latter has a typical "jack-in-the-pulpit" flower. This species seldom fails to fascinate people who see it, at least in bloom. It perhaps can be most readily seen from alongside greenways that run along Piedmont rivers and larger creeks. In the Coastal Plain, it is most often seen along the Roanoke and Cape Fear rivers.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Dragon-root
State RankS3S4 [S4S5]
Global RankG5
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