Rare corpse flower springing to life

Call it an Amorphophallus titanium if you want, but a blooming corpse flower by any other name would still stink of decaying flesh.

Dunedin Botanic Garden winter garden glasshouse curator Stephen Bishop holds a corpse flower plant yesterday. Right: A specimen ready to bloom in Auckland in 2013. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dunedin Botanic Garden winter garden glasshouse curator Stephen Bishop holds a corpse flower plant yesterday. Right: A specimen ready to bloom in Auckland in 2013. Photo: Peter McIntosh

The unpleasant-smelling flowering is exactly what Dunedin Botanic Garden staff expect will happen to its plant for the first time early next year.

At its propagation facility yesterday staff weighed the corm at 32kg, up from 15kg two years ago.

Winter garden glasshouse curator Stephen Bishop said he was ''delighted'' by the weight which made him optimistic the plant would finally flower in January, after nine years, and produce its signature rotting aroma to bring visitors flocking.

''I'd say there's at least a 75% chance. I'm going to be really disappointed if it doesn't flower.''

He would know about two weeks beforehand, he said.

The large purple, yellow and green flower would grow to about 2.5m and bloom for only 48 to 72 hours.

If this happened, it would be exhibited for the public to view, probably in the garden's winter display.

Mr Bishop said he imagined it would be a ''massive'' event.

''We'd hope to get two or three thousand people coming in. It's going to be really exciting.''

One idea was to display it at Forsyth Barr Stadium for that time.

The corm was donated to the garden in 2008 from a private donor, who gave a plant of the same parentage to the Auckland Domain.

The Auckland plant had flowered three times.

Mr Bishop said Dunedin's colder climate was probably among the reasons for its slower growth.

The flowers produced stenches to entice carrion-eating beetles for pollination, Mr Bishop said.

''Apparently, the enzymes that it produces are found in rotting meat, rotting fish and excrement. So every nasty smell you can think of, it produces.''

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment