Stinky Corpse Flower Attracts Sniffing Fans

Source: Instagram/dispicabledan

A corpse flower before it starts to bloom. Photo credit: Instagram/dispicabledan

The Denver Botanic Gardens were flooded with curiosity seekers this week who were eager to see, and smell, the first bloom of a giant corpse flower. The corpse flower, or titan arum, actually smells like a rotting corpse; hence, its famous moniker. It uses its scent to attract flies and beetles, its primary pollinators, to its blossoms.

The plant is native to Sumatra, Indonesia, and the Denver blooming is the first of its kind in the Rocky Mountain region.

Initial blooming of such plants can take anywhere from 10 to 15 years to occur. The Denver Gardens received its plant back in 2007, and this is its first blooming. Horticulturist Aaron Sedivy stated that the flower is currently about 13 years old. The plant started to unfurl today at around 6 p.m.

Corpse plants are rare, even in their native environment, and not much data exists on them in scientific receptacles. Because of this lack of data it is difficult to predict a blooming date. Blooms typically only last 48 hours, and the plant emits its pungent odor throughout that duration. After that time its petals close, preventing any bugs who dared to venture into its recesses from flying back out.

After the blossoms completely re-furl the trapped insects climb up the center spike to escape. As they act out their escape plan they become covered with pollen, which they’ll carry to other corpse flowers, pollinating them in the process.

Horticulturists at the Denver Botanical Gardens have chosen not to pollinate this particular plant, citing issues with its small size, first blooming, and their desire not to stress it out by forcing it into the seeding cycle.

They also state that there’s no way to predict when the plant will bloom again.

One thing’s for sure. Affectionately named Stinky, this flower has become somewhat of a B-list celebrity, even earning its own hashtag, #StinkyDBG.


Video: YouTube/USA Today

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