With a rare bloom that rises higher than the tallest human, the corpse flower has earned itself global recognition. There are many unique facts about this huge flower, and among those include the interesting name.
In this article, we are going to talk about interesting facts about the corpse flower:
- Names of the corpse flower
- The strong stench
- Larger than life
- Cultivating a rare bloom
Names of the Corpse Flower
The large flower is known as the corpse flower also goes by other names. According to the botanical convention for naming plants, the scientific name for this special plant is Amorphophallus titanium. This name is derived from Ancient Greek and roughly means a misshapen giant or a giant without form. In this scientific name, the first name refers to the genus, and the second name refers to the specific species of the plants. The binomial system of naming plants and, indeed, all living organisms helps us to be sure we are talking of the right organism. This flowering plant is also known by its common name of titan arum.
Although the unique attributes of the flower have earned it global renown, it is originally endemic to Sumatra in Indonesia. Now the cultivation of the plant takes place in other regions and climates of the world, as discussed a little later. Now that we have properly identified the flower, let’s explore why it’s so famous.
The Strong Stench
If you’re wondering why and where the name corpse flower came from, the reason is as the name suggests. From this huge plant, there is a strong and foul odor that emerges. Many have likened the odor to that of a rotting carcass or corpse. Interestingly, in Indonesian, the flower goes by the name bunga bangkai, where the first name means flower, and the second name means corpse or cadaver.
The strong stench that resembles rotting flesh is important in the pollination process of the corpse flower. Flesh flies and carrion-eating beetles are attracted to the odor. The bright red color of the flowers looks like meat, and the vaporizes odor draws in the insects, which then facilitate the process of insect-pollination. The tip of the flower is at a temperature around human body temperature, and this is important in spreading the odor and attracting the meat-eating insects.
Larger Than Life
The corpse flower is famous for having a huge unbranched inflorescence. Of all flowers in the world, it is the largest in this category. An inflorescence is the group of flowers arranged on a stem arising from the main branch. A stronger contender for this record is the talipot palm or Corypha umbraculifera. The difference is that although the talipot has a larger inflorescence, it is branched.
The inflorescence of the titan arum can get as high as 10 ft. The flower looks like fragrant flowers wrapped by what looks like a huge petal. This is known as the spathe, and it is a dark burgundy color on the inside and dark green on the outside. It also has a lot of furrows in its structure. Inside this petallike structure, and out of view, there are two rings of small flowers. The titan arum or corpse flower has a similar structure to the calla lily.
The process of pollination in the corpse flower has been touched on. The male and female flowers, which grow in the same inflorescence, are pollinated with the aid of insects. The flowers open at different times to prevent self-pollination.
When the flower of the titan arum dies, one leaf grows out of the corm underground. This leaf can grow up to the size of a small tree. The leaf is composed of leaflets, and the entire structure can measure 16 ft across and 20 ft high. This leaf dies each year and is replaced by another. During this time, the corm stores food and energy, remaining dormant for four months. The current record for the largest corm is held by a corpse plant grown in the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburg. This corm weighed 339lb after growing for 7 years.
Cultivating a Rare Bloom
Although western Sumatra, Indonesia, and western Java are the only places where the corpse flower grows naturally, it is now cultivated in many botanical gardens in the world. In the wild, the plant grows in rainforests and on limestone hills.
The titan arum was studied and described scientifically by an Italian botanist named Odoardo Beccari in 1878. Growing this magnificent flower is not the easiest thing to do. It has a very rare bloom in the wild, and more so when it is being cultivated. The blooming of a corpse flower is an exciting event that has been studied and captured on video by many scientists and tourists alike.
The first time that the corpse flower flowered in cultivation was in 1889. This took place at the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew, London. Since that time, there have been over 100 other cultivated blossoms. In the United States, the first cultivated corpse flower bloom was recorded in 1937 at the New York Botanical Garden in 1937. From then on, the titan arum became the official flower in the New York borough of the Bronx in 1939 up until 2000.
Over the years, there have been more and more cultivated plants. Flowering events are held at different locations around the world several times each year. It takes experts to cultivate the flower, and they make use of advanced pollination techniques. Roseville High School in California was, however, the first high school to successfully bring a corpse flower to bloom in 2011.
The tallest titan arum blooms that happened in cultivation are recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. The record set in 2010 in New Hampshire was 10 ft 2 in. The blooming of the titan arum takes place with the spathe opening between the afternoon and late evening. It stays open all night, allowing the female flowers to be pollinated. After 12 hours, the spathe usually begins to wilt. This marks the short blooming period, although it can go up to 48 hours.
The corpse flower or titan arum is a large flowering plant. It has a unique rotting meat odor. It also has large inflorescence and a rare bloom.