Thanks to my friend Jon who is a plant /cacti freak for introducing me to the Amorphophallus titanium plant. It’s greek for amorpho = misshaped, phallus = phallus, titanium = giant… and um, what’s greek for purple…!?
What follows is an exerpt from the handout given at the conservatory:
It grows in the shady rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. It is a member of the aroid family, Araceae. Other members of the family include the calla lilly. It is an underground corm that can reach up to 200 pounds.
For the first years of it’s life it produces a single leaf.
Then after growing for seven to ten years, pouring carbohydrates back into the corm, the bunga bungkai, or corpse flower is produced.
The male and female flowers (see knobby brown bits in my pix) are found at the base of the spadix, safely surrounded by the spathe (that’s the purple lettuce-like bit). The plant produces two heavy sulpher based compounds that are not easily airborne. The plant heats up to about 100 degrees, ( how cool is that ?! ) to volatilize these compounds making them airborne to attract pollinators from a longer distance. The spathe turns purple resembling rotting flesh.
[Too bad this blog isn’t smell-o-vision or scratch ‘n’ sniff !! You just gonna have to trust me, the spathe unfolded today and I could smell it from around 4 feet. I got a good snort of the inside too- HA and yep ! – smells like rotting flesh ! *Odor-rific * How cool is Mama Nature to have made this freaky flower !? It’s amazing !!]
So much energy is produced on flower then seed production that the flower only remains open for about 48 hours. After the two day period, the flower will slowly collapse. If the plant is not pollinated it will go dormant and grow another leaf in another 4 to six months. If it is pollinated ( it is believed to be pollinated in the wild by carrion beetles and flesh flies), the pencuncle will remain upright and it will take nine months for the seed to mature.
Check out this quickie 3 card tarot spread I pulled a few minutes before I saw this freaky flower – is hilarious and spot on ! Click here !