The Stinky Corpse Flower: Ideal for Valentines Day?
The Titan Arum is a somewhat unusual flower as you can tell from its nickname ‘the stinky corpse flower’. We tend to think of flowers as being small and delicate with a pleasant aroma but as you may have guessed the Titan Arum is far from pleasant. It tends to not bloom for years at a time (sometimes up to 15 years) and when it does flower it is spectacular. Its full name Amorphophallus titanum gives you a hint as to the plant’s somewhat phallic nature.
When it blooms the Titan Arum gives off an aroma that has been compared to ‘a rotting mammal’ in order to attract the Beetles and Flesh Flies which pollinate it. The tip of the spadix heats up to body temperature in order to complete the illusion of rotting meat. The flower can reach over 7 feet tall so it is quite hard to miss particularly when it’s smell overtakes a whole museum.
The amount of energy used by the plant means that it is only able to bloom for a few days at a time. So, if you grow a Titan Arum you get two days of rotting meat smells after up to 15 years of waiting. the clip below from David Attenborough’s The Life of Plants shows the titan in all its glory.
With January drawing to a close florists start to focus on valentines flowers and I can’t help wondering where I might pick up a Titan Arum for my girlfriend. She likes flowers and we get enough rain in England to simulate rain forest conditions when combined with a patio heater. I think I could be on to a winner, nothing says I love you like a 7 foot tall phallus that smells like rotting animals.
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Tags: Amorphophallus titanum, flowers, plants, stinky, titan arum