Dracontium L.
  • Sp. Pl.: 967 (1753) 

Notes: Distribution: Mexico to Trop America

General Description

HABIT : usually seasonally dormant, often robust, sometimes gigantic herbs, tuber hypogeal, depressed-subglobose, often bearing few to very numerous tubercles on upper surface. LEAVES : usually solitary. PETIOLE : very long, often verrucose-asperate, sometimes bearing few to many longer, prickle-like processes, covered with striking, transversely banded variegation, usually weakly geniculate at apex, sheathed only at very base. BLADE : trisect, sometimes perforate, primary anterior divisions usually trisect at middle and primary posterior divisions bisect below the middle, secondary and tertiary divisions further subdivided, ultimate lobes usually elliptic-acuminate, rarely linear (D.margaretae); primary lateral veins of ultimate lobes pinnate, forming arching submarginal collective veins, higher order venation reticulate. INFLORESCENCE : 1(-2), preceded by cataphylls, often appearing before, with or after the leaf. PEDUNCLE : very short to long, epidermis similar to petiole. SPATHE : oblong, usually ± boat-shaped, erect, acute, cuspidate to acuminate, often fornicate, convolute basally, gaping above, rarely pubescent within, marcescent to persistent, usually dark brown-purple outside, more reddish purple within and often white at the base within. SPADIX : shortly stipitate, shortly cylindric to ellipsoid, much shorter than spathe, apical flowers sometimes sterile or with enlarged irregularly shaped, projecting structures. FLOWERS : bisexual, perigoniate; tepals 4-8, dilated apically, fornicate. STAMENS : usually 4-6, sometimes up to 12, usually longer than tepals at anthesis, filaments somewhat dilated, ± compressed, anthers longer than connective, connective slender, thecae oblong-ellipsoid, dehiscing by apical slit. POLLEN : extruded in a conglutinate mass, monosulcate, ellipsoid to oblong, medium-sized (mean 36 µm., range 29-43 µm.), exine foveolate-fossulate to subreticulate, apertural exine rugulate or verruculate. GYNOECIUM : ovary ovoid, incompletely 1-6-locular, ovules 1 per locule or 2 when ovary 1-locular, anatropous or subcampylotropous, funicle short, placenta axile to subbasal, style as long or much longer than ovary, projecting beyond perigone, stigma small, subcapitate or slightly 3--lobed. BERRY : usually obpyramidal, bearing style rudiment, greenish to brown. SEED : rounded-reniform, a little compressed, testa verrucose to almost smooth, rather thick, embryo curved, endosperm present.

Diagnostic Description

Tuberous geophytes, often robust, sometimes gigantic; petiole usually verrucose-asperate and variegated transversely, only weakly geniculate apically; leaves usually solitary, blade dracontioid, ultimate leaflets mostly acuminate, fine venation reticulate; spadix usually hidden within spathe; flowers bisexual, perigoniate; seed verrucose to almost smooth. Differs from Pycnospatha in presence of perigone, smooth red berries, and Neotropical range.


Tropical moist and humid forest, rarely in savannas (D. margaretae); geophytes on forest floor.


Mexico, Tropical America.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Northern America Mexico Mexico Southeast
  • Southern America Brazil Brazil North
  • Brazil Northeast
  • Brazil Southeast
  • Brazil West-Central
  • Caribbean Dominican Republic
  • Puerto Rico
  • Trinidad-Tobago
  • Windward Is.
  • Central America Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • Panamá
  • Northern South America French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela
  • Southern South America Paraguay
  • Western South America Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru


  • 1 Govaerts, R. & Frodin, D.G. (2002). World Checklist and Bibliography of Araceae (and Acoraceae): 1-560. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 2 Gardens, K.""Royal Bot World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. (2008).
  • 3 Mayo, S.J., Bogner, J. & Boyce, P.C. The Genera of Araceae. (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: 1997).

 Information From

CATE Araceae
Haigh, A., Clark, B., Reynolds, L., Mayo, S.J., Croat, T.B., Lay, L., Boyce, P.C., Mora, M., Bogner, J., Sellaro, M., Wong, S.Y., Kostelac, C., Grayum, M.H., Keating, R.C., Ruckert, G., Naylor, M.F. and Hay, A., CATE Araceae, 14 Dec 2011 . 17 Dec 2011.
  • A All Rights Reserved
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
  • B All Rights Reserved
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • C Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
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