Just in time for Halloween, Adelaide residents experienced an incredibly rare flower that’s 3 metres tall, takes seven years to bloom and smells like decaying flesh.
Sadly, it takes just a few days to die off after it blooms.
The Adelaide Botanic Gardens has one of the world’s most significant collections of the extremely rare Amorphophallus titanum, a giant flowering plant native to western Sumatra and western Java.
This beast can weigh over 100 kilos, grows up to 3 metres tall and is characterised by an odour commonly described as rotting meat. The smell attracts carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies that pollinate it.
To add to its bizarre characteristics, the flower sports a burgundy colour with thick, frilly petals that make it look like a piece of decaying flesh.
— Jessica Adamson (@JessAdamson7) October 27, 2018
During bloom, the Amorphophallus titanum even goes as far as altering its temperature close to that of a human body. This not only helps strengthen the odour but also enhances the appeal to carcass-eating insects.
The unusual plant, also known as the titan arum or corpse flower, is at risk of becoming endangered and currently classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Plants.
Want a fun fact? The name “titan arum” was coined by the naturalist hero Sir David Attenborough for his BBC series The Private Life of Plants because the producers of the show thought the word Amorphophallus was “too rude” for TV.
Since the Adelaide Botanic Gardens began planting the flower a decade ago, they have witnessed just four flowerings. The general public has only a few more days to experience this unusual, stinky, yet amazing spectacle of nature.
Smells like the perfect end to Halloween to me.