I've 'seen' everything now - Dracunculus vulgaris

jegrace jegrace@rose.net
Wed, 06 Jun 2007 10:56:10 PDT
I agree about the clumsy launch but unfortunately I know for a fact that
they aren't that hard to get close to.....having had one launch his way into
the path of my car on a back road a couple of years ago

One minute he was on the side of the road, then one huge hop into the road,
and a launch AT the car, 

$500 damage

I admit I did not check for vomit or aroids at the time

astroJim and Erin Grace
Thomasville, GA

-----Original Message-----
From: pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org]
On Behalf Of Jim McKenney
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2007 11:06 AM
To: john@johnlonsdale.net; 'Pacific Bulb Society'
Subject: Re: [pbs] I've 'seen' everything now - Dracunculus vulgaris

John, if a turkey vulture was indeed the culprit, the "attack" no doubt
occurred on the ground. The bird would have landed, walked up to the plant,
sniffed around and gone for the stink. 

Your daughter probably didn't see a turkey vulture on the ground: it's very
hard to get close to one on the ground (probably because although they are
among the most graceful, seemingly effortless gliders when in the sky, they
are hilariously clumsy in launching themselves into flight from the ground).

Also, this might be a good time to point out to other aroid fanciers that
one should not approach a vulture on the ground: they are known to vomit
when threatened by approaching animals. Opinion seems to be divided between
those who think they vomit to quickly lighten their load and thus get
airborne more quickly and, on the other hand, those who think they vomit,
projectile vomit, in the direction of the approaching threat. I'm not about
to volunteer for the field work to elucidate this one.  

In my experience, the stink in these aroids comes from the distal part of
the spadix. Perhaps I should say the stink which humans perceive. That may
not be the same stink which other animals home in on. But if it was a turkey
vulture, and if turkey vultures smell the same thing we do in these plants,
then I would expect the spadix in particular to have been attacked.

Then again, after having expectations of a nice rotten steak and then
experiencing the disappointment of tasting a Dracunculus spadix, perhaps the
overwrought turkey vulture took out his wrath on the spathe, too. 

Too funny...

The spathe of Dracunculus and Amorphophallus make macabre floral ornaments -
just nip off the distal part of the spadix and throw it away and you will be
able to enjoy the spathe odor-free in the house. Too bad they don't bloom at

I'm quite cross with my local turkey vultures for not having provided me
with the honor of being first to report this bizarre event.   

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I'm thinking about my
next post which will also concern a strange aroid. 

My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin http://www.pvcnargs.org/ 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society http://www.potomaclilysociety.org/

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