Corpse plant begins to bloom at Botanic Garden

The corpse flower is expected to be fully open at the Dunedin Botanic Garden on Friday night. The...
The corpse flower is expected to be fully open at the Dunedin Botanic Garden on Friday night. The Garden is open until 8pm tonight and from 8am on Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
The Dunedin Botanic Garden is once again the smelliest place to be as the corpse plant reveals its rare and pungent bloom for only the second time.

Dunedin Botanic Garden collection curator Stephen Bishop says the plant’s (Amorphophallus titanum) famously large and odorous flower is blooming again, following a first appearance in early 2018.

The nauseating whiff from the world’s largest flowering structure has been compared to the smell of rotting flesh, and is nature’s way of attracting insects for pollination.

However, the spectacle is short-lived, lasting just 24 to 36 hours after the flower opens.

The plant is on display in the Winter Garden Glasshouse and viewing hours have been extended from 8am-8pm to cater for the expected demand.

“There’s not much time to see it, but it is definitely worth a visit, especially because we have no idea when it might flower again in the future,” Mr Bishop said.

The plant was gifted to the Dunedin Botanic Garden in 2008, but for most of its life regularly produces a single leaf the size of a small tree.

When it flowered in February 2018, thousands of people visited the Garden to witness the spectacle and experience the putrid smell.

The plant was gifted to the Dunedin Botanic Garden in 2008 but only flowered for the first time...
The plant was gifted to the Dunedin Botanic Garden in 2008 but only flowered for the first time in 2018. Photo: ODT files

“Wherever a corpse plant flowers it is guaranteed to generate intense fascination, and we expect this second flowering to create a similar level of interest.

"The flower grows exceedingly quickly and we have already seen people visiting on daily return visits to see the progress through the plants flowering cycle," Mr Bishop said.

“No matter how many times I see the corpse plant in flower, I never fail to be in awe of it. It is indeed a spectacle of the plant world that I think everyone needs to experience and outside of going to Sumatra this is the closest we in Dunedin can get.”

Garden staff have been keeping a close eye on the plant again since late last year, when it began showing signs of flowering for a second time, and have put in countless hours cultivating the plant to achieve the successful flowering “and bring a little bit of the Sumatran rainforest to Dunedin”.

 

 

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