Cool Find: Corpse Flowers

| 8/5/2010 3:16:47 PM

S.CollinsLois stands about 6 feet tall and smells like a dead body. Yet she attracts more than just flies; visitors from around the nation come to Texas just to smell her stench and marvel at her unique beauty.

Lois is an Amorphophallus titanum, or “Corpse Flower.” She recently bloomed in the Cockrell Butterfly Center located in The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS).

The first documented flowering of the plant was in New York City in 1937. Since then, there have only been 29 blooms in the United States, with two of those being in Texas. The plant only blooms after growing for seven years and weighs about 30 pounds, which is the exact size of Lois. You can check out the HMNS blog to learn everything you need to know about Lois.

A "Corpse Flower" can grow up to 10 feet and weigh about 200 pounds!
Photo By Chris Capell/Courtesy Flickr

The A. titanum thrives in the rainforests on the small Indonesian Island of Sumatra. The plant grows one massive leaf, which wraps around the entire plant when dormant. While the plant is dormant, the flower looks like a huge ear of corn (at least, in my opinion!). According to the HMNS website, explorers who first discovered the plant thought it to be a man-eating plant because of its human size and rich, meat-like color. Plus, no one can forget the rotting-flesh scent the plant emits when in bloom to attract flesh-eating beetles and flies for pollination when it blooms. During the blooming period, the top of the spadix turns a deep purple and heats up to the same temperature as the human body to give the illusion of actual meat to attract its pollinators.

The "Corpse Flower" is extremely difficult to cultivate. It has a big appetite, easily rots, and is difficult to bloom. It grows up to four inches a day. But, with a precise amount of cow and chicken, bone meal, other various ingredients and expert care, it is possible!

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