The Corpse Flower

by Leighann on July 29, 2011

Corpse Flower

The LARGE titan arum, or corpse flower.

If you’ve come here for some diabetes wisdom today, you are out of luck. But if you want to hear about something cool, keep reading! After all, there is more to life than diabetes.

When I took a plant biology class a couple of years ago, the hands on lab was challenging, but very fun. As part of the class we were able to go to the department’s green house where we got up close and personal with some of the flora.

I am sure that we saw the Amorphophalus titanum, or corpse plant, while we were there. But since it wasn’t blooming at the time I probably just thought “wow, that’s a really big plant.”

What makes the rare corpse plant unique is that it takes ten years or more for it to bloom for the first time. It was discovered by scientists in 1878 in Indonesia. The first titan arum to bloom in the US was in 1937 at the New York Botanical Garden. The next one to bloom wasn’t until 1998!

When flowering, the plant heats up to 100 degrees and emits a foul smell that attracts pollinators (and spectators and TV crews!) from long distances. The flower is only open for about 48 hours before it begins collapsing.

We were able to see it at it’s peak!

This photo doesn’t show the large scale of the plant, but for perspective, the top ruffle of the leafy skirt was even with my face. I had to lift Q up so that she could put her nose inside.

We debated going back the next day to see it again, but the web cam showed that it was already closing back up.

Corpse Flower

Q thought it smelled like rotten cheese.

Corpse Flower

One of the many orchids in the greenhouse.

Corpse Flower

If my plant identification skills didn’t fail me, this is a hibiscus.

All images copyright D-Mom Media 2011.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Karen July 29, 2011 at 9:37 am

Wow, that pretty cool!! Thanks for teaching me about the Corpse Flower. Yup, I’m pretty sure that last picture is a hibiscus. And I loved seeing the beautiful orchids. My grandparents were florists – we would go once a week to visit (they lived below their flower shop) and I miss that little shop so much!! My grandfather’s favorite flower was an orchid, and when he passed my grandmother put an orchid to represent each of his grandchildren in his casket spray. I still have that orchid, carefully dried and tucked inside of a pretty box. 🙂


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