It’s that time of year again. Our local botanical gardens has joined the ranks of other such sites across the US to introduce a titan arum (“corpse flower”) event, based on the bloom cycle of the plant. I have never seen one of these in bloom and am not sure I’ll get there in time for this one. Indeed, I have heard that the stench of the plant is already fading. But I’m fine with anything that helps the gardens, and this does provide some botanical education as well. I am sure many of you have corpse flower events in your areas.
That’s all I have to say, but here are the thoughts of columnist Bruce Adams, who writes a weekly post for the Buffalo Spree website:
They actually cut it open this time. Interesting!
Ahh, smell the aroma
If you’re fond of the odor of dead bodies, you’re in for a treat at Buffalo’s and Erie County Botanical Gardens.
Corpse flowers typically bloom every seven to ten years. They are the second biggest flower in the world (think Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors). The Botanical Gardens has one of the rare plants, and by the time you read this it might have bloomed.
Lots of fun meme opportunities. Images courtesy of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
About that name
The scientific Latin name for the plant is Amorphophallus titanium, and it’s indigenous to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. It looks like a Hollywood prop from a Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie (Jane would get trapped in it and Tarzan would have to save her again). The plant (or specifically the flower) has been named Morty by the staff at the gardens. (Fun fact: humans love to anthropomorphize plants and animals.)
But the plant’s common name is corpse flower, which comes from the fact that it smells like rotting flesh when it blooms. It even raises its “body” temperature to ninety-eight degrees to mimic a freshly dead corpse. It does this to attract dung beetles, flesh flies, and other carnivorous insects, which are the plant’s primary pollinators.
Morty is about to bloom again, this time after only four years! The bud stands about four and a half feet tall, but it’s closer to the ground this time, so visitors will have a better look at the plant (not to mention a better sniff).
BREAKING NEWS: Morty started blooming at 10 p.m., Sunday, June 10. The bloom only lasts a few days, so don’t wait. If you want to visit it (him?), expect to stand in line. Marty is a very popular dead-smelling dude.