Corpse Flower bloom begins ahead of stinky display

08 January 2023

The foul-smelling Corpse Flower has opened its limited but stinky bloom as thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Adelaide Botanic Garden.

The endangered Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum), known as the Corpse Flower, opened last night and began sharing its rotting flesh-like scent.

Over the next two days the plant will pulse out its notoriously foul-smelling aroma in a bid to attract pollinators, with the strongest smell in the first 24 hours.

Botanic Garden and State Herbarium (BGSH) horticultural curator, Matt Coulter, said the plant, which currently measured over 1.5-metres tall, will flower for the first time in nearly 10 years and is slightly smaller than previous blooms.

"This particular plant was propagated in our nursery using the leaf cuttings of an already established adult Titan Arum plant," he said.

"It's the first time this plant has flowered in its life cycle and it's the first of our 'second generation' plants to flower using the leaf cutting propagation method.

"This is a major breakthrough for us and shows that we're able to successfully propagate flowering Titan Arum plants by growing them in a controlled environment, away from their natural habitat."

The inflorescence bloom will last approximately 48 hours before the large yellow spadix begins to collapse.

Once collapsed, it can take around three to give years before a Titan Arum plant can produce another eye-catching inflorescence.

The Corpse Flower is native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List with fewer than 1000 plants left in the wild.

Rainforest deforestation to make way for unsustainability palm oil and palm oil alternative plantations has seen numbers of the Titan Arum rapidly decrease in the wild, and BGSH is part of a global effort to conserve the species.

"Samples for DNA genotyping, propagation techniques, plant tubers and even strange growth occurrences are shared with other institutions across the world who are also looking out for this species," Mr Coulter said.

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