Tuesday, August 4, 2015

All hail the corpse flower

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 10:15 AM

click to enlarge A corpse flower before and after. - DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS
  • Denver Botanic Gardens
  • A corpse flower before and after.
For the first time in Denver Botanic Gardens history, its amorphophallus titanum, or corpse flower, will bloom. In fact, it's likely the first time in regional history.

When it does, it will extend a long cluster of flowers that resemble a baguette (in color and size) and smell like rotting flesh.

Lovely.

It will also heat up, before collapsing a day or so afterwards (if not pollinated) and won't bloom again for many years. Corpse flowers, which are native to Indonesia, can bloom anywhere from 7 to 10 years to every few years, generally blooming more often in the wild than in captivity.

DBG estimates that its plant will bloom sometime around Sunday, Aug. 16, though the exact time cannot be determined. (You can follow the progress more closely on Twitter, with the hashtag: #StinkyDBG.)

As of right now, the DBG says the plant is growing an average of two inches per day.

Just last week, "Trudy" of the University of California Botanical Gardens in Berkeley bloomed to much fan fair, "releasing 'infrequent blasts'" of that stench and clocking in at 56 inches long. (Trudy, it was discovered, is also a guy.)

Corpse flowers, the above article explains, smell like carrion to attract beetles and flies — which lay their eggs in rotting flesh — and in exploring the plant that smells like a bug nursery, help pollinate it.

A quick word from Wikipedia on the smell, if you were further curious:
The potency of the aroma gradually increases from late evening until the middle of the night and then tapers off as morning arrives. Analyses of chemicals released by the spadix show the “stench” includes dimethyl trisulfide (like limburger cheese), dimethyl disulfide, trimethylamine (rotting fish), isovaleric acid (sweaty socks), benzyl alcohol (sweet floral scent), phenol (like Chloraseptic), and indole (like mothballs).

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