Amorphophallus titanum


And now, The Huntington’s tumblr is proud to present…


Photos every 20 min.
Left: Yesterday (8/23), 9:10 a.m. through 4:50 p.m.
Center: Yesterday, 5:10 p.m. through 12:50 a.m. today (8/24).
Right: Today, 1:10 a.m. through 8:50 a.m.

The Corpse Flower, though in the process of closing, is still GORGEOUS and people are flocking in to see it. SO COOL.

[9/3 update: The Corpse Flower closed over a week ago.]


The spectacular Titan Arum

With a massive flowering structure that rises some three metres above the ground, the Titan arum is a giant among plants, scientifically named Amorphophallus titanum (Alismatales - Araceae).

These striking plants dwell only in the rainforests of western Sumatra, on steep hillsides that are 120 to 365 m above sea level.

The Titan arum has a massive inflorescence (flowering structure) consisting of a spathe (collar-like structure) wrapped around a spadix (flower-bearing spike). The spathe is the shape of an upturned bell. It is green speckled with cream on the outside, and rich crimson on the inside. It has ribbed sides and a frilled edge, and can be up to three metres in circumference.

The flowers are carried on the lower end of the greyish-yellow spadix. At the base of the spadix, within the protective chamber formed by the spathe, is a band of cream male flowers above a ring of the larger pink female flowers. When the flowers are ready for pollination, the spadix heats up and emits a nauseating smell. This stench is so bad that the Indonesians call the plant ‘the corpse flower’.

These wonders of nature are not easy to observe in the wild; they can take ten years to flower and are only open for one day.

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©Jeremy Holden  |  [Top]  -  [Bottom]  | Locality: Sumatra

Made with Flickr

For the first time in nearly 80 years, NYBG has a corpse flower on display! Also known as the titan-arum, Amorphophallus titanum last bloomed here in 1939, and our current specimen looks just about ready to unfurl. These unpredictable flowers—some of the largest on earth—have a brief but vivid blooming period of just 24–36 hours, and that’s after 10 years of careful tending by our horticulturists.

We expect the plant to live up to its name in the next few days with a vibrant color and fragrance that should make clear why it’s called the corpse flower. Head through to learn more and find out the best time to see this botanical spectacle!


The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) bloomed at the Copenhagen Botanical Garden this tuesday (top four pictures) and is now slowing closing thursday (bottom picture). The huge “bread loaf” structure (spadix) is for sending out a powerful smell of rotten flesh which attracts insects that pollinate the tiny flowers hidden at the bottom of the spadix, as seen in the third and fourth picture. It’s the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world (the largest branched is the talipot palm and the largest single flower is Rafflesia arnoldii) but this individual is “only” 1,60 m while the world record is 3,11 m. 

In another day or two the whole thing is going to wilt and collapse and the corm hidden in the soil is going to gather resources for the next bloom, hopefully in a few years, maybe 15, maybe never.

I was working in the greenhouse and let me tell you, pasty scandinavians are not made for +30 C temperatures with a humidity of +80%.  

Be glad tumblr isn’t scratch & sniff (yet?)—one of our Amorphophallus titanum specimens (aka corpse flower, stinky plant, titan arum) is getting ready to bloom! We’ll be posting daily pics on our instagram and website, sending out updates via twitter, and rounding out the fun with some goodies here on tumblr. Best guess right now is that it’ll bloom sometime this coming week. It’s on view in the Conservatory now through the big stink.

caption: Image from volume 117 (January 1891) of Curtis’ Botanical Magazine, in The Huntington’s holdings. GIFed by The Huntington.

8/27 update: It bloomed, it smelled weird, it closed up. Be sure to check out the rest of our posts featuring all sorts of photos and timelapse gifs of the process. It was way cool.


The blooming of an Amorphophallus titanum (AKA corpse flower AKA titan arum) at The Huntington Library last week inspired me!

If you think humans jump through a lot of hoops just to reproduce, check out this plant. It waits 7-10 years, storing up starch in a giant tuber, just so it can bloom for a single day. Then it pretends to be a hunk of rotting meat to attract insect pollinators. Then, months later, it switches tactics to a produce a sweet fruit so birds will disperse it’s seeds.

If you have never smelled a titan arum but for some odd reason you would like to … you are in … luck? Scientists have identified the exact malodorous chemicals that come off these strange flowers to attract pollinators - so you can create the scent at home!*

*please, for your own sake, don’t try this at home.


Amorphophallus titanum known as the titan arum, is a flowering plant with a large unbranched inflorescence. Due to its odor, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the titan arum is also known as the corpse flower, or corpse plant

Amorphophallus titanum

Known as the titan arum, is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescencein the world. The titan arum’s inflorescence is not as large as that of the talipot palm, Corypha umbraculifera, but the inflorescence of the talipot palm is branched rather than unbranched.

Due to its odor, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the titan arum is characterized as a carrion flower, and is also known as the “corpse flower”, or “corpse plant” (Indonesian:bunga bangkai – bunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver). For the same reason, the title “corpse flower” is also attributed to the genus Rafflesia which, like the titan arum, grows in the rainforests of Sumatra.


The Corpse Flower began to open Saturday afternoon, peaked in the middle of the night, and spent its Sunday getting pollinated and starting to close in front of the crowds who poured in to see and smell this wacky botanical wonder. By Monday (pictured in this set), it was pretty much closed back up AND STILL CRAZY BEAUTIFUL. (And—not pictured here—botanists collected pollen that’ll be frozen ‘til it can be used on another bloom here or elsewhere.)

And now we wait to see whether the pollination worked. It’ll be quite a while before we know, though, so The Huntington’s tumblr will be going back to its regular, non-Stinky5 programming. Thank you for tuning in.

From their home at Jacobs Well, just south of Brisbane, owners John and Genny Catlan watched as the plant started opening at 6.30pm on Tuesday, and finished at 2.30am on Wednesday.

The native Sumatran flower is renowned for its pungent smell, which some claiming can waft for 2km.

So, just in case, the Catlan’s warned neighbours as soon as they noticed the 2m high plant starting to flower. "It smells like roadkill,” Mrs Catlan said….“

I’ve always wanted to see one in person (don’t really wanna smell it though).