June 30, 2014

Recently the Titan Arum ( Amonphophallus  titanum) plant bloomed at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  Originally  from the Island  of Sumatra, a part of Indonesia, these plants bloom infrequently and when they do bloom, it only lasts approximately 24 hours.   If  I understood correctly, the last time this particular plant bloomed at the Gardens  was in 2012.   Since the bloom  is open only for a short time, the Gardens  remained open until 2:00 am the day of the bloom  for anyone interested in seeing   and smelling   this rarity.  I arrived about 8:00PM  and stood in line for about an hour.   When I left, the line was even longer so the plant definitely brings  in the curiosity seekers.

Did I mention the smell???  It isn’t  nick named the Corpse Flower for nothing.   As I stood in line, there was definitely a stinky odor  and the closer I got to the plant, the worse it got.  When I finally had my turn to stand in front of it,  the stench  was nauseatingly  horrible.

As I learned from my visit,  the spadix ( the thing that is sticking up in the middle)  releases this stinky odor to attract pollinators. Interestingly,  the tip of the  spadix  is also  approximately human body temperature, which helps the odor  volatilize and  attract  the pollinators also.

Now I can obviously show you the photos I took but I also wanted to do my best to share with you the smell.   So if you can  imagine this….

According to Wikipedia, the America Chemical Society and Cornell University did an analysis of chemicals released by the spadix .  It showed  the  “stench” includes chemicals similar to the smell of  limberger cheese, rotting fish, sweaty socks,  a sweet floral scent,  Chloraseptic and mothballs all rolled into one.   Now, aren’t you sorry you missed it?


Thanks for reading!






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