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TWO Corpse Flowers are GROWING!

Erin Grajek

In early July 2014, the Botanical Gardens acquired three Amorphophallus titanum corms, Morty, Fester and Morticia.  Since then, Morty has produced one leaf structure and two flowers.  Fester has produced one leaf and one flower and Morticia has produced one leaf.
 
Amorphophallus titanum, commonly known as corpse flowers, are native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia and are famous for their horrible smell, like rotting flesh, while in bloom.  Corpse flowers typically bloom every 6-10 years, making it a rare sight to see and smell.  When the plant blooms, the flower and stench will only last 36-48 hours.
 
In between blooming, the plants go through a cycle of dormancy and create a large, compound tree-like leaf. Over time, the old leaf dies and a new one grows in it’s place. The leaf structures collect energy so the plant can bloom again in the future.  Unfortunately, the leaf structure has no offensive smell. 
 
When the first growth appears, it can be hard to predict if the plant will become a leaf or flower.  At this stage it can grow several inches per day and will produce a leaf or flower within several weeks of its first growth. In the early stages of growth, a flower can look wider at the bottom and a leaf can appear uniformly shaped.  Fester showed signs of growth about four weeks ago and its five leaf structures are currently two to four feet tall. Fester has produced five leaf structures which is unusual for this plant. The leaf structures can grow up to 20 feet tall and 16 feet across.  Leaf structures will last many months to over a year until the corm has gathered enough energy.  The leaf structure then dies off and it will go dormant for a few months.  This process repeats until it has enough stored energy for a bloom.
 
Morticia showed signs of growth about two weeks ago and is growing at a much slower rate.  Because Morticia’s coloring and growth shape is different, the horticulture team at the Botanical Gardens believes it will be a flower. It is hard to predict when and if Morticia will be in full bloom. If Morticia is a flower, our best estimate would be that Morticia would be in full bloom within six to eight weeks. 

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