When you walk through the Seasonal Display Garden, most of the year it smells lovely. But at certain times, something definitely smells “funny.” That would be the Devil’s Tongue.
Devil’s Tongue is a tropical plant from Southeast Asia. It is a member of the philodendron (arum) family and has a single flower stalk that can reach five feet tall. It also has large leaves and a dark colored spathe surrounding a large spadix. In nature, the Devil’s Tongue is pollinated by flies. To attract the flies, it mimics the smell of a dead water buffalo. Thus the “funny” smell.
Devil’s Tongue can be used as a food source as well. It produces an edible tuber that can weigh up to 22 pounds. The tubers are used in China and Japan to provide a chewy texture in soups and stews, much like tofu.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has several of these smelly plants. They bloom rarely, but when they do, we want to share this unique plant with our guests – despite their smell.
There is a Devil’s Tongue that is ready to bloom right now. The blooms will last for seven to ten days. Stop by and check it out on your way to the Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition.