Amorphophallus flowers in Adelaide, Australia


Titan arum

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation today:

Smelly corpse flower draws late-night visitors to Adelaide Botanic Gardens

A stench has drawn late-night visitors to Adelaide‘s Botanic Gardens as one of the world’s biggest flowers, the titan arum or corpse flower, has bloomed in its Bicentennial Conservatory.

The smell is likened by some people to rotting fish — and in the rainforests of Sumatra, where the plant is native, the scent encourages pollination.

It is the second corpse flower to bloom in Adelaide in just over a month and horticulturalist Matt Coulter of the Botanic Gardens said the conservatory remained open until midnight to let people get a whiff.

“It actually smells strongest into the evening,” he explained.

“The plant actually pulses the smell out, so it’s not just one smell that just hangs around [but] every 20 or 30 seconds the plant will push out some aroma and then that will dissipate and then another 20 or 30 seconds [later] it will actually push it out again.”

The flower blooms and emits its unusual aroma for a couple of days before it starts to wither.

Mr Coulter said a decade of propagation and nurturing by Botanic Gardens staff had achieved the two blooms within just weeks.

“We’ve been growing it, potting it up and hoping that one day it would come into flower and luckily enough we’ve been able to have two within a month which is quite incredible for our state,” he said.

“It’s quite rare to get one flower — to get two within a month is fantastic.”

The conservatory opened again at 7:00am today to give visitors a chance to see and smell the flower.

“It’s a very strong sort of ammonia, rotting fish sort of smell,” Mr Coulter said, and gardens visitors agreed.

One said: “It smells like a corpse or what I imagine a corpse would smell like.”

“I suppose it does smell a bit like rotting flesh but it’s quite an acrid smell,” another said.

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