The Sauromatum venosum, also known as the Voodoo Bulb, is a shade-loving house or garden plant native to temperate and tropical regions of Asia. This tuberous perennial is characterized by its solitary, segmented round leaf and peculiar, arum-like flower. The plant grows from an underground corm, which can produce multiple new corms in a large specimen.
The Sauromatum venosum is particularly known for its ability to bloom from a corm without soil and water, which has earned it the name "Voodoo Bulb." Its inflorescences emerge before the leaves, displaying a purplish-brown-spotted, yellowish spathe and a purplish-brown spadix. These inflorescences emit a strong odor that is often compared to cow manure, rotting flesh, or a dirty wet dog. The scent, which lasts for about two days, attracts carrion-feeding insects that help pollinate the plant.
Following the blooming of the flower, the leaf of the Sauromatum venosum appears and develops over several months. The leaf is glossy, silver-green, segmented, softly hairy, and fan-shaped, with a dark mid-vein. It measures about 2-5 feet in diameter and 2-4 feet in height. In mature plants, the side leaflets bend downwards, creating a cup shape that conceals the center of the flower spike. The leaves die back and enter dormancy during winter colder months.
To cultivate Sauromatum venosum, plant the corm with the low-side down and the pointed side up in moist, well-drained soil in semi-shade. The plant prefers warmth and ample moisture. While it may not withstand extreme cold, it can be grown in colder regions if the corm is brought indoors during cold spells . In warmer climates, Sauromatum venosum can be grown in pots with a well-draining soil mix, requiring regular watering and feeding with a balanced fertilizer to ensure optimal growth.
Sauromatum venosum is a relatively low-maintenance houseplant, provided proper growing conditions. This fast-growing bulb requires minimal care and forms an unusual clump over time. Its unique blooms contrast nicely with the deep green foliage, making it an attractive addition to gardens and patios. The plant can be grown as a specimen in containers or borders in temperate climates, with mature plants being cold hardy down to the 30s Fahrenheit for short periods.