When a single flower is given a nickname you can be rest assured that it is a phenomenal flower! The titan arum, also known as the “corpse flower”, is one of the largest flowering species in the plant kingdom and it completed its bloom cycle last week in the Chicago Botanic Garden. Why do they call it the “corpse flower” you ask? Well, it gives off a super stinky stench when it’s blooming.
A Historic Flower
In 1878 the titan arum was first discovered in Sumatra, an Indonesian island, by an Italian botanist. It was then sent to Florence for conservation. The tubers didn’t survive the journey, but luckily, some seeds were preserved.
Even though this flower was discovered a long time ago, more attention was brought to it just recently. In 2015 the first corpse flower to begin blooming was exhibited in the Chicago Botanic Garden. 75,000 people came to witness the blooming of Spike, the corpse flower. Unfortunately, Spike, did not have sufficient energy to complete the bloom cycle. The second corpse flower, Alice, was also displayed last year and this one did have a full bloom and is now producing fruit. This year, the rare event was exhibited by Sprout’s full bloom on April 24th! Besides the Chicago Botanic Garden, there are other Botanic Gardens that also have the corpse flower on display.
From Start To Finish
The plant lays dormant until it is ready to start a new leaf or flower cycle. During the leaf cycle the plant produces a large leaf with complex leaflets. After 12 to 18 months, the leaves will fall over. This brings the plant to its dormant stage again.
The plant can produce a flower every 4 to 5 years. Although in some cases it may take up to 10 years to gather all the energy needed for a full bloom. The formation of the flower starts from a spike that emerges from the former dormant corm. When the flower experiences full bloom, it smells like what some may associate with the smell of a dead animal. The spadix produces berry-like fruits after withering of the flower. These fruits are eaten by birds that in turn help in spreading the seeds around. So luckily the blooming of this flower is not the end of the plant!
Take a look at how the visitors experienced the corpse flower.