April 1, 2020

One Big Corpse Flower

Roger Sampson Photo | Amorphophallus titanum - Corpse flower

Roger Sampson Photo | Amorphophallus titanum – Corpse flower

Flowers come in all shapes and sizes, although the size of Amorphophallus titanum would be enough to stop anyone in their tracks. The inflorescence of the curiously named “corpse flower” can top 10 feet in height – when it blossoms. This native of western Sumatra is endemic to rainforests where it grows on limestone hills, but it is widely cultivated in botanic gardens around the world because of its uniqueness. A. titanum only flowers every few years, with some plants taking up to 10 years to produce a bloom, while others blossom every two or three years. It grows from an underground corm, and when the lone flower dies back, one leaf emerges, growing to the size of a small tree of up to 20 feet in height and 16 feet wide. The leaf dies back each year, with a new one growing annually, storing energy until it is ready to become dormant before the process repeats. The corm is massive, often weighing around 110 pounds, although one at the Botanical Garden of Bonn, Germany, was reported to weigh 258 pounds. The plant is called the corpse flower because of its scent, that of rotting meat, which attracts certain insects to aid in pollination. To top it off, the bloom cycle of the plant is miniscule: The flower that blossomed at the United States Botanic Garden in July 2013 started to open the night of July 21, began to close the following evening and collapsed on the 24th.

This corpse flower was photographed by Roger Sampson at Auckland Domain in New Zealand earlier in March. Roger is a New Zealand photographer who describes his work as a hobby. “Nature is the star,” he says, “and I just expose nature.” You can find him on Facebook and YouTube, including videos of his visit to Auckland Domain when the flower was in bloom.

For a fascinating journey through pictures and video of the corpse flower that blossomed at the United States Botanic Garden in July 2013, click here.