Pinellia pedatisecta
Common Name: pinellia 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Araceae
Native Range: Northern and western China, Japan
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Spathe (pale green) and spadix (pale yellow)
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Deer


Grow in moist, rich, fertile, humusy, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Best in part shade. Plants can spread very aggressively throughout the garden by (a) offsets from the tubers, (b) bulbils which form at the base of the leaf petioles, and (c) self-seeding. Flower stalks can be removed prior to the dropping of the seed to help limit self-seeding. Plants are probably winter hardy to USDA Zones 4-8, but some experts claims the plants perform poorly north of Zone 6.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pinellia pedatisecta, commonly known as green dragon or fan-leaf Chinese green dragon, is a tuberous herbaceous perennial that is native to shady woodland areas, forested slopes and valleys in northern and western China. It is the tallest member of this genus of diminutive aroids, typically rising to 10-18" tall with a spread to 10” wide. It is in the same family as and closely related to the more commonly known Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema).

Leaf petioles and flower spikes rise from underground tubers. Each compound, pedate, medium green, basal leaf has 7-11 ovate to lance-shaped segments (leaflets). The central segment of each leaf extends to as much as 7” long, but the lateral segments are much shorter. Rising above the leaves in summer (June to August) are naked flower spikes. Each flower spike is terminated by a calla-lily-like flower structure featuring a narrow columnar inflorescence (pale green spadix containing both male and female flowers) wrapped by a tubular spathe. The spadix protrudes like a dragon’s tongue as suggested by the common name of green dragon for this plant. The spadix terminates in a very long, serpentine, whip-like extension (tail) which emerges upward from the lip of the spathe for another 7-10" into open air.

Of the nine recognized Pinellia species, this is the only species that lacks the internal septum that partially separates the lower tube from the spathe blade.

Yellowish-green flowers bloom on the spadix in May-early August (unseen because the view is blocked by the spathe). Pollinated female flowers on the spadix give way to showy one-seeded berries which ripen in fall to green.

Genus name honors Giovanni Vincenzo Pinelli (1535-1601) of the Botanic Garden in Naples, Italy.

Specific epithet comes from Latin pedatus meaning "bird foot-shaped" and secta meaning "divided" in reference to its compound segmented leaves which appear to be divided like the foot of a bird.


No serious insect or disease problems. This plant has the potential to spread very aggressively in the garden and may be difficult to control and erradicate once established. Can be easily confused with the North American native Arisaema dracontium (also called green dragon) when in leaf. Be wary of acquiring plants listed as the native green dragon from unreputable sources or as gifts from neighbors or friends until they can be identified with certainty by observing the inflorescence. The spadix of A. dracontium stands free from the spathe, while in P. pedatisecta they are partially fused.


Woodland gardens. Rock gardens. Sun-dappled areas. Do not plant in natural areas or other locations where its potentially aggressive spread will be problematic.