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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - July 16, 2014

From: Hocking Hills, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: The Unusual Foliage of Green Dragon
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I was hiking last week (July 7-11, 2014) in Hocking County, Ohio and while in a gorge along a river I saw the weirdest plant I've ever seen in my life. It wasn't weird because it had bizarre flowers or bright colors though. Everything about it defies all I know about plants and I honestly have no idea where to even start in identifying it. It's not a flower, doesn't look like a fern, is too big to be a tree sapling, and it's definitely not a grass. It was growing in loose, acidic soil and it was about 4 feet tall. The only leaves it had were large broad, oval shaped leaves at the very top and holding them up is a tealish colored stem. The leaves aren't in any familiar pattern I've ever seen. The best way to understand is to look at it: https://38.media.tumblr.com/b9a98f24dbf3568df73a42b3d0af322b/tumblr_n8kebjuSuI1tawhpvo1_500.jpg It was all by itself with no other plants its height around it and it's the only one of its kind I've ever seen.

ANSWER:

You certainly spotted an unusual and rare native plant! Called Green Dragon, Arisaema dracontium is in the Arum Family and only has 1 leaf, which is divided into leaflets that are arranged palmately and radiate outward along the stem. A separate stalk has the flower (which blooms in early summer). The flower is green and has a long spadix like a dragon's tongue. Orange-red berries form in late summer. Young plants will not flower until they are 2-3 years old.

Green dragon is related to Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum).

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Green dragon
Arisaema dracontium

Green dragon
Arisaema dracontium

Green dragon
Arisaema dracontium

Green dragon
Arisaema dracontium

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