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The Corpse Flower Blooms Again


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On Aug. 23, 2014, a rare Amorphophallus titanum or Titan Arum (a.k.a. the "Corpse Flower") bloomed at The Huntington in The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science. It was fifth bloom at The Huntington of one of these tropical titans. (The first was in 1999; three more followed in 2002, 2009, and 2010). The plant's towering inflorescence reached a height of 5 ft. 6 inches before it opened and released its foul-smelling odor, a signal to attract pollinating insects. The smell attracted a good number of visitors, too. 

 

Botanical staff members pollinated the plant on Aug. 24, using pollen from a recent bloom at Orange Coast College (see below). Now the plant is turning its energies to the next stage of its life cycle: bearing fruit.  The Titan Arum will remain on view in the Conservatory for the next few months so visitors can watch its progress. With luck, the fruit will produce seeds for another generation of Corpse Flowers.

 

You can view time-lapse images of the Corpse Flower's impressive bloom on Tumblr.

 

VERSO: A Stinky Family Tree

The newest flowering of the titan arum "Corpse Flower" has generated intriguing questions about the origin of this plant...  more on Stinky

 

Daily growth (ins.) to final bloom

date height difference
8/14/14 39.5  
8/15/14 41.625 +2.125
8/16/14 46 +4.375
8/17/14 50.5 +4.5
8/18/14 54 +3.5
8/19/14 57.25 +3.25
8/20/14 60 +2.75
8/21/14 62 +2
8/22/14 63 +1
8/23/14 64.5 +1.5
8/24/14 66 +1.5

 

About the Titan Arum or “Corpse Flower”

Native to the equatorial rain forests of Sumatra, the Amorphophallus titanum, or Titan Arum, can reach more than 6 feet in height when it blooms, opening to a diameter of 3–4 feet. But the plant is perhaps most famous—or infamous—for its exceptionally foul odor.  Hence the nickname, Corpse Flower.

 

Why all the excitement?

A Titan Arum in bloom is as rare as it is spectacular. A plant can go for many years without flowering, and when it  does the bloom lasts only one or two days. Some people travel around the world hoping to see a Titan at the moment it flowers. For botanists and the public, being “in the right place at the right time” to see one of these magnificent plants in bloom can be a once-in-a-lifetime treat. This is only the fifth time a Titan Arum has bloomed at The Huntington.

 

 

A close-up of the pollination process, August 2014.

  Titan-arum-pollination-2 titan-arum-pollination

About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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