Erakina

Corpse Flower: An evil-smelling flowering plant that takes 8-10 years to grow

Published Date : December 27, 2021

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Plantae

Clade: Tracheophytes

Clade: Angiosperms

Clade: Monocots

Order: Alismatales

Family: Araceae

Genus: Amorphophallus

Species: A. titanium

Binomial name

Amorphophallus titanum

(Becc.) Becc. ex Arcana

Corpse Flower is born entirely in broad-leaved rainforests of Sumatra, Western Indonesia. Amorphophallus titanum, the blossoming flowering plant, has a gigantic evil-smelling inflorescence (a flower cluster) and it smells like rotten flesh. Moreover, Corpse Flower takes 8-10 years to start its flowers cycle but can decompose within a few days. Such flowers are endangered, so efforts are being done by many botanical gardens to preserve this unique smelling plant. There are 28 distinct species of this rootless, leafless plant, with flowers varying in size from about 5 inches to 40 inches.

Significance of foul-smell of Corpse Flower

  • There is a significant reason behind the rotten fleshlike smell of a Corpse Flower. The flower has this intoxicating smell to captivate pollinating insects in the feral, for example, hunting several types of beetles and flies.
  • There is some chemistry behind this captivating smell. It contains some of the elements that make it attractive for flies and beetles to come towards it. For example, it has isovaleric acid to give a sweet smell to the corpse flower.
  • The plant pours out this smell only when it is blooming, which takes place once in 8-10 years. So you can observe and smell it only once in several years.

Specifications of Corpse Flower

  • Corpse Flower’s height is around 3 to 4.6 meters(10-15 ft). Its length and breadth can reach up to 6m and 5m respectively. Usually, such plants grow up to 8 feet and their leaves can be more or less than 13m wide.

Average specifications of a Corpse flower

6m length,

 5m breadth,

 3 to 4.6m(10-15 ft) high,

The corm weighs around 45kg.

  • The tallest bloomed Corpse Flower is registered in the Guinness Book of World Record at 10 feet(3.1m) tall. It started its flowering cycle on June 18, 2010, at Winnipesaukee Orchids in Gilford, New Hampshire.
  • The Corpse Flower’s corm(rounded thick underground stem base) weighs around 45 kilograms. The plant’s whole energy is said to be stored in its corm. Once its Corm acquires enough energy for blooming, it blooms for 24 to 36 hours and then collapses. This can be observed once in several years.

Process of Blooming of Corpse Flower

  • Blomming takes place once in 8-10 years, but whenever it occurs, it takes place in 2 stages on succeeding nights. They are named as ‘male stage’ and ‘female stage’. The male flower shapes a ring around the spadix, whereas the female flower shape a ring at the bottom of the spadix. The male flowers are just above the female flowers.
  • In the course of the first stage, female flowers receive pollen from carrion beetles that crawl inside its rounded thick underground base(Corm) and smell like rotten flesh. 
  • In the time of the second stage, the corm begins to collapse and the smell fades away. 
Blomming of Corpse Flower
Corm(rounded thick underground stem base of a Corpse Flower).
  • Each corpse flower blooms for 24-36 hours and can produce about 400 fruits each containing two seeds.

Conservation status and efforts to preserve the species

  • Amorphophallus titanum is endangered as it is the only native species of Sumatra. The reason for the species to get extinct is deforestation for crops and lumber. The International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) declared it as an endangered species in 2018. 
  • Several efforts are being done to preserve the species. Some efforts are being done by Chicago Botanical Garden since 2003, to conserve the species. Various projects are underway at Chicago Botanical Garden to preserve this vulnerable species.
  • Corpse flowers can only be grown in specific and suitable conditions. It can’t be grown anywhere or everywhere. This is because the seeds of this plant, called recalcitrant seeds, are not simple to store. So it can only be grown in a few botanical gardens.

By- Aditi Jain

Content Writer (Erakina By RTMN)

Date – December 10, 2021

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