Corpse Flower FAQ

You can watch live streams of our corpse flower throughout the blooming process at the following links: 

July 11 Putricia1

What is that plant?

This plant is an Amorphophallus titanium, titan arum, more commonly called a corpse flower. It is comprised of a central spike, called a spadix, surrounded by a spathe, which looks like a large petal. It is called a corpse flower for the strong odor, like a rotting carcass, the plant emits when it blooms.

 

Where does it come from?

Titan arum is native to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, where it grows in the tropical rain forests.

 

How long has it been at Meijer Gardens? 

We received the plant as a one-year-old seedling in August of 2000. Since then, it has been growing in our back greenhouses. Back then it fit in a 4.5” pot!

 

What’s with the smell?

The plant releases strong odors to attract carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies (Sarcophagidae) that pollinate the plant. In addition to the smell, the plant also heats up to about 98 degrees (roughly human body temperature), and is a deep red color, which serves to attract those pollinators. Read this blog post from Chicago Botanic Garden to learn more about the chemical makeup of the smell.

 

How long does the bloom last?

Titan arum blooms for a short time, it will start to wilt after about 24 hours.

 

Will it bloom again? 

Yes! There is a lot of variation among plants, so it is difficult to predict. Some bloom as soon as the next year, others take another 7-10 years. The average is every 4-6 years.

 

Why did it take so long to bloom?

Titan arum stores energy in its corm, like a bulb. The plant will send up a leaf, that looks like a small tree, that sends energy to the corm. When the corm has enough energy stored up, it will produce a bloom. Putricia’s corm weighed in at 52 pounds this past May.

Leaf and Corm

Left, our Director of Horticulture Steve LaWarre pictured with the titan arum leaf. Right, the titan arum corm, weighing in at 50+ pounds

 

How big can they get?

Titan arum can reach more than ten feet in height!

 

Is this the biggest flower in the world?

Sort of! You can say that titan arum is the biggest flowering structure in the world. The actual flowers are very small, and can be found on the inside of the plant, near the base of the spadix. The plant produces both male and female flowers. Plants like this one are called inflorescence, which means a stalk of many flowers. Calla Lilies have the same structure as the corpse flower.

 

Why did you name this plant?

It is a tradition among botanic gardens to name corpse flowers because they are so rare and unique. Their large size also make quite a statement! Our horticulture team lovingly named our corpse flower “Putricia,” for the putrid smell. Chicago Botanic Garden named theirs “Spike,” Cornell University dubbed theirs “Wee Stinky,” and “Rosie” lives at Tuscon Botanical Gardens, to name a few.

July 10 Putricia1

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