Corpse Flower | Amorphophallus titanium blooms around the country

Corpse flower

Corpse flowers bloom very infrequently. Image from Flickr.

Native to Sumatra, the “corpse flower” — officially known as the amorphophallus titanium — is a flower of many mysteries. The flower starts as a tuber, lives most of its life as one big leaf, and then blooms into a giant, rotting-flesh-smelling flower. Most corpse flowers only bloom two or three times in their lives, so it’s big news when one blooms. In several botanical gardens around the country, the amorphophallus titanium flower is emerging in all its stinky glory.

The life cycle of a corpse flower

A corpse flower is considered very distinctive for several reasons. The flower is very rare, and usually grows in Sumatra. The very pungent scent of the flower is meant to attract not bees and birds but flies and beetles. Attracted by the strong smell of rotting flesh, these creatures pollinate the flowers. In greenhouses and botanical gardens around the country, amorphophallus titanium flowers are kept very carefully. Difficult to pollinate, these flowers usually bring in lots of crowds.

Keeping a corpse flower

Very few gardens around the country sell amorphophallus titanium starts. Because corpse flowers are difficult to pollinate, they are usually pollinated with frozen pollen. In Berkley, you can buy a Titan arum start between $35 and $50. It’s not much of a beginning cost, but these flowers are very touchy. For most of the life cycle of the corpse flower, you’ll just have one big leaf. The flower blooms two to three times in its full lifetime, and the smell can be overwhelming. If you desperately want one of these liver-colored, huge, stinky plants, you might want to build a closed-off addition to your sun room.

Less stinky, but just as cool

If you are into wicked plants like the corpse flower but don’t want to risk having to spend a huge amount of money to get the rotting flesh smell out of your clothes, you do have other options. Wicked plants can also go far above and beyond the Venus Fly Trap. There are bushes that shoot poison spines, trees that leave a rash or even your classic wicked plant: hemlock.

Other recent posts by bryanh