The Smell of the Corpse Flower
Raising the Biggest Stink in the Flower World
The Corpse Flower, Amorphophallus titanum, is the stinkiest flower in the world and what does it smell like? You guessed, a rotting corpse.
More commonly called titan arum which, you must admit, sounds a lot better, it can grow up as high as three metres, that's ten feet, and it only flowers once in about every seven years. Perhaps that's just as well.
It's a striking, strident plant, related to the Calla lily, but definitely not my choice for a display in the average suburban garden. I'd make a hefty bet that it wouldn't be your choice either.
A Massive Smelly Bloom
The Corpse Flower does its job beautifully
We delight in flowers. We admire their graceful shapes, their entrancing variety of colours and, most of all, we enjoy their enchanting fragrance. But flowers couldn't care less what we thought of them. Everything about a flower, especially the scent, is fine-tuned over millennia to attract pollinators.
The corpse flower does its job beautifully, attracting those flies and beetles which lay their eggs in dead things. Once the plant has lured these decaying-flesh lovers, it smothers them with seeds so that the titan arum genes are spread far and wide.
It doesn't need us at all, and the stench of the corpse flower will leave us gagging and gasping for breath.
Corpse Flower in Canada
The Rare Corpse Flower
If you want to see this flower in the wild, you'll have to travel to Sumatra.
However it's now found in many places since it was first cultivated in the Kew Royal Botannical Gardens in 1889.
It's still a rare event though, there's never been more than six cultivated Corpse flowers in bloom, anywhere in the world, in a single year.
Want to grow one yourself? Don't be discouraged. The advanced gardener can often manage to produce a Corpse flower with a great deal of work (and money).
The Corpse Flower was once the official flower of the Bronx
Corpse Flower in Melbourne
Disappointed you can't cultivate a Corpse Flower? Get a Venus Flytrap instead
Put this little terror on your windowsill. On your porch. On your fence. Anywhere you want! Entertain your neighbours and mesmerise passers-by
Detailed, yet simple instructions for growing a Venus Flytrap and other carnivorous plants
Quick Corpse Flower Poll
Would you like to have a Corpse flower in your garden?
© 2013 Susanna Duffy