It may look beautiful but it certainly doesn’t smell it. Aptly named, the “corpse flower” grows in the rain forests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and releases a horrendous odour. The odour attracts insects which feed on deceased animals and lay their eggs in rotting meat. The plant requires 7-10 years of growth before eventually blooming for the first time. The odour is said to smell like a combination of limburger cheese, rotting fish, sweaty socks, human faeces, and a sweet floral scent.
michael scofield be like: i will use this single stale cheetoh to feed the dog that roams outside the east wall of the prison at precisely 4:36 pm on the third wednesday before the 5th full moon of a year a corpse flower blooms after which the dog will take a shit which will be stepped on by the prison guard’s cousin’s financial advisor, causing him to be late for work, which makes him throw his recycling in the garbage by mistake, which will then be transported on a garbage truck traveling at 22 miles per hour driven by a man whose father just landed in yemen yesterday and dropped a napkin on the floor which was carried on the wind through our window and landed in my lap exactly 1.7 seconds ago which i am now folding into a lockpick so we can escape
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.
My Ceropegia woodii or chain of hearts blooms often, much to my appreciation! They belong to my favorite flowering plant family, Apocynaceae, which also contains corpse flower or carrion flowers in the Stapelia genus. Also called a corpse flower but in a different family is Amorphophallus titanum, Aracae (the Greek etymology of which is giant misshapen phallus). The huge spathe and spadix inflorescence of A. titanum smells like- you guessed it- rotting meat, attracting flies and carrion beetles as pollinators. For the curious, I detect no smells from my friend C. woodii.
After 10 years of waiting, the rare plant is finally set to bloom — and release a smell like literal death. When the corpse flower finally blooms, the flowers hidden in its massive outer layer release a heinous death stink that insects love. And the glorious process is being live-streamed now.
And earlier today, a couple of folks in our botanical division began extracting seeds. Pics soon. First, though, please take a moment to revel in the beauty of this moment of this crazy plant’s life cycle. It’s kind of amazing.