The rare and elusive Amorphophallus titanium, or corpse flower as it’s more commonly known, that was gifted to Sadie Barber, the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) senior horticulturist 12 years ago, has finally bloomed. RBGE workers couldn’t be happier, despite the flower’s terrible stench.
As the name suggests, the corpse flower — dubbed the smelliest plant in the world — smells like rotting flesh.
“At its peak in the glasshouse it actually made our eyes water,” Barber said.
The reason behind the corpse flower’s vomit-inducing smell is simple — to attract insects that would normally feast on rotting flesh, such as carrion-eating beetles and flies.
Corpse flowers are native to the Sumatran rainforest near the Bukit Barisan mountain range, though private collectors and other botanical gardens around the world are also known to cultivate it. The RBGE’s corpse flower was gifted to Barber in 2003 by the Hortus Botanicus, in the Netherlands, and although the last 12 years have seen the plant grow seven leaves, this is the first time the giant flower has actually bloomed.
The nearly nine-foot-tall plant is expected to bring tourists out in droves to see — and smell — the rare bloom. But visitors to the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh are going to have to be quick if they want to catch a glimpse of the corpse flower, as the bloom doesn’t last long.
“The full bloom only lasts one or two days so visitors should hurry to catch the spectacle while they can,” Barber said.
The botanical gardens in Edinburgh usually only receive between 200 to 300 visitors on an average June day. With the blooming of the corpse flower, however, they expect that amount to increase to around 3,000 to 4,000 visitors this weekend alone.
“We are thrilled to finally see, and smell, this incredible curiosity of the plant world after 12 years of careful cultivation by the Horticulture team at RBGE,” Barber said. “We are thrilled to finally see, and smell, this incredible curiosity of the plant world after 12 years of careful cultivation by the Horticulture team at RBGE.”
In order to get the corpse flower plant to finally bloom, it took 12 years of careful cultivation that included perfectly replicating the conditions it would experience in its natural habitat of the Sumatran rainforest.
The very first corpse flower ever collected was gathered by the Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari, who also happened to be the first to scientifically describe the plant, in 1878.
If you had the chance to see and smell the corpse flower, would you take it?
[Image Credit: The Scotsman]