St. Louis residents see corpse flower bloom

October 24, 2013 by  

A rare flower of the species name Amorphophallus titanum, more colorfully known as the ‘corpse flower’, has bloomed at St. Louis’s Missouri Botanical Garden.

The unusual plant started cropping up last week and was expected to maintain its bloom for three to five days, though its peak bloom only lasted for one in the end. Accompanying the bloom is a stench that gives the flower its nickname, and the unpleasant odor is strongest during the first 24 hours. The University of California, Santa Barbara, where a corpse flower bloomed earlier in 2013, described its fragrance as a mix of “rotting flesh and Limburger cheese”. The flower can reach six feet in high and three feet in width.

The rarity of the corpse flower means that it attracts attention and excitement despite its foul smell. Fewer than 160 flowers have been documented throughout the world in the past 120 years. It can bloom every 2-3 years, or it may not flower for 10 years or more. The few plants that exist in the wild are restricted to a small area in Southeast Asia.

Outside of Asia, the corpse flower only blooms under cultivation. The Missouri Botanical Garden has eight of the plants, two of which bloomed last year.

Officials at the 154-year-old garden center could work with brochure printers to create a mailer about the flower, showing the Garden’s hours and exhibits, and encouraging visitors to see this rare plant and some of the others on show.