The rare Amorphophallus titanum can take up to a decade to flower and attracted quite a crowd in California
Something that emits a smell of rotting flesh would usually be avoided at all costs.
But the opposite happened at San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas, California, USA as crowds flocked, following a rather putrid smell.
The rare ‘corpse plant’ has been the main attraction at the Gardens, only blooming for 48 hours, something that can take a decade to build up to, bringing with it the essence of rotting flesh.
The Amorphophallus titanum, nicknamed the corpse plant due to its stinky odour, began blooming on Halloween and by the following day, timed-entry tickets had sold out, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
In excess of 5,000 people were expected to have visited the garden by Tuesday evening.
The crowds were lured because it can take around a decade for a corpse flower to bloom for a period of just 48 hours.
During the short lived bloom, the odour of rotting flesh is present to attract carrion beetles and flesh flies that help its pollination process – clever albeit stomach churning stuff.
The Guardian reported that John Clements, the horticulture manager at the Gardens described the smell as being so thick that “you could cut it with a knife”.
The imposing plant, which can grow up to 12ft tall is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimation of fewer than 1,000 remaining in the wild.
IUCN estimates that the population has declined more than 50 per cent over the past 150 years.
The main reasons for the decline are logging and the conversion of the plant’s native forest habitat to palm oil plantations.
The allure and therefore media presence surrounding the corpse plant stems from a combination of its sheer size, being the largest unbranched inflorescence in the plant kingdom, it’s pungent smell, and fleeting presence.
The smell is most potent during peak bloom times at night and into the early morning.
The inflorescence (a collection of flowers acting as one) also generates heat, allowing the smell to travel further.
The complex combination of the heat and the smell is what attracts pollinators from long distances.
The corpse plant does not have an annual blooming cycle.
The bloom emerges from an underground stem known as a “corm.” The plant blooms only once sufficient energy has been accumulated.
This makes the time between blooming entirely unpredictable; it may only take a few years or may take over a decade. The plant favours specific conditions including warm temperatures during the day and night paired with high humidity.
This is what makes botanic gardens an ideal home for this unusual plant outside of its native home, in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.