PORTLAND, Ore. — The corpse flower is a giant plant known for its rank smell. But it has a rich and racy history.
Scientific name: Amorphophallus titanum
- The corpse flower is native to Indonesia.
- It was discovered in 1878. The first one was recorded to be 5 feet across and 10 feet wide.
- It rarely flowers in the wild and even less often when it is cultivated.
- They’re very rare and becoming rarer as Sumatra’s rainforests are being cleared for oil palm plantations.
- What’s the deal with the smell? SCIENCE!
It can fool pollinators into furthering its species. Corpse flowers deep burgundy color attracts carnivorous insects to it. That, coupled with its smell and ability to warm up to approximately 98 degrees lures in the bugs that pollinate the plant. When they bugs go inside the flower thinking it is stinky meat, they come out foodless, but with pollen on their little bug legs. The corpse flower is the catfish of the botanical world.
- The corpse ‘flower’ is actually corpse flowers.
It’s a flowering plant and when it matures it has more than one flower all encased inside the large red leaf it is known for.
- It used to be the official flower of the Bronx.
New York Botanical Garden had America’s first-ever recorded blooming corpse flower in 1937. It bloomed again in 1939. It was the flower used to represent the Bronx until 2006 when it was replaced with what The New York Botanical Garden politely calls a “more conventionally attractive” daylily.
- You can grow one of your own, but it can be difficult.
According to Logee’s, a reputable plant website and online store, growing a corpse flower isn’t necessarily any more difficult than any other flower. The issue is maintaining good and sustainable conditions for flowering for sometimes more than 7 years. Due to the fact that it comes from the rainforests of Indonesia, it likes heat and humidity which can be hard to control in your average home during changing seasons.
- Its Latin name is so NSFW that David Attenborough wouldn’t say it on TV in Britain.
The Latin name essentially shakes out to “amorphous giant penis.” The “enormous flower spike,” called a spadix, lends itself to the name. David Attenborough, British TV personality, thought the Latin name was too saucy for tea time so he called it the “Titan Arum” on his show "The Private Life of Plants" instead. It’s still referred to by this name today. We understand why.