Saturday, July 15, 2017

Corpse Flower in Bloom

Earlier this week I visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens for a  rare sensory experience. A corpse flower named Octavia bloomed! The corpse flower gets its name from the intense rotting scent it releases upon blooming. 
The Amorphophallus titanium is a fast-growing plant, but it blooms infrequently, under very specific conditions. A volunteer at the Garden shared that this was the first time Octavia had bloomed in her 12-year life. In the wild, they grow only in the rain forests of Sumatra, Indonesia.
In addition to their odor being so unique, the size is also extraordinary. A tall pale yellow spike stretches up to six feet tall. This spike is actually full of tiny, crowded flowers. A leaf, much like one giant fan, opens to reveal a deep crimson red color, up to three feet wide in diameter.
I visited about 24 hours after the peak blooming. The smell was present but had subsided, and the fan-like leaf was closing. Below are images of early and peak stages of bloom. For something named 'corpse,' this flower is undeniably full of life.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 
Few corpse flowers exist in cultivation, but the Missouri Botanical Garden has eight specimens, and there have been eight flowerings in the past five years. I am looking forward to the next opportunity to experience this unusual bloom.

*Information in this post was gleaned from I highly recommend visiting the website to see more images and a time lapse video of their first corpse flower blooming in 2012.

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