Pinellia tripartita
Common Name: green dragon 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Araceae
Native Range: Southeastern China, Japan
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Grow in moist, rich, fertile, humusy, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Plants will spread in the garden by bulb offsets, bulbils, and self-seeding, but are not invasive.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pinellia tripartita, commonly called green dragon, is a tuberous herbaceous perennial that is native to forests, forest margins, cultivated fields and roadsides in China, Japan and Korea. It typically grows to 8-10" tall. It is in the same family as and closely related to jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema).

Leaf petioles and flower spikes rise individually from underground tubers. Mature plants typically grow to 12-18" tall. Each upright leaf petiole is terminated by a single trifoliate green leaf (each leaflet to 3-8" long). Rising above the leaves are naked flower spikes. Each flower spike is terminated by a flower structure consisting of a calla-lily like bloom that is not an individual flower but is a two-part structure consisting of a narrow columnar inflorescence (pale green spadix containing both male and female flowers) wrapped by a tubular spathe and blade. The spadix is fused to the inside of the spathe, so all flowers on the spadix face in one direction. The spadix has a very long, whip-like extension which emerges upward from the lip of the spathe for another 7-10" into the open air. Yellowish-green flowers bloom on the spadix in May - July (usually unseen because the spathe somewhat blocks the view). 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 words tri meaning three and partita meaning parts in reference to the trifoliate (three-parted) leaves.

Common name of green dragon is in reference to the shape and green color of the flower structure.


No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Woodland gardens. Rock gardens. Sun-dappled areas.