‘Corpse flower’ coming to life


The corpse flower is known for its pungent smell when it blooms. Courtesy Frederik Meijer Gardens

The wait is over.

After almost two decades of anticipation, visitors should get a rare opportunity to glimpse the bloom of Amorphophallus titanum, commonly known as a corpse flower, at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

The flower is expected to bloom and stay open for just 24 to 36 hours.

“As a professional horticulturist, this is incredibly exciting,” said Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture at Meijer Gardens. “Many people go through their entire careers never seeing an example like this in person. We are thrilled that something that we started as a seedling here at Meijer Gardens 18 years ago is coming to fruition and that the public is showing such great interest.”

The flower is known for its pungent smell when it blooms. The odor attracts carrion beetles and flies that normally feed on dead animals but are the natural pollinators of Amorphophallus titanum.

Officials expect the corpse flower to bloom between July 12 and July 14.

Meijer Gardens has a name of its own for the world’s largest and rarest flower that was first seen in Sumatra, Indonesia, in 1878. Employees have nicknamed it “Putricia.”

Amorphophallus titanum is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the plant kingdom. It can grow to 12 feet tall in its natural habitat and about 6 to 8 feet in cultivation.

The structure of the plant consists of fleshy central spikes called a spadix that holds two rings of male and female flowers, wrapped by frilly spathe, a modified leaf that resembles a petal.

Visitors will be able to view the corpse flower from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.

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