On Tuesday night, thousands of people waited in line here at the Denver Botanic Gardens nearly three hours to get close to a rare exotic plant, whose bloom lasts only for 48 hours. But the flower, dubbed corpse flower, is not only rare, it also has a foul smell designed to lure meat-loving insects to its blossom
The plant uses the nasty odor, which resembles to that of a rotten corpse, to attract flies and beetles and pollinate it. Surprisingly the bloom lasts only two days so enthusiasts had to hurry up to witness the rare event.
Witnesses reported that the smell was even more intense as the at the back of the greenhouse where air ventilating system was not able to get rid of it fast enough. The plant, which originates in Sumatra, Indonesia, was donated to the Gardens eight years ago. Although it is nearly 13 years old, it never bloomed. Curators said that it is the first time such plant blooms in Colorado.
Corpse plants do not bloom that easily. They do it at the end of their life so it usually takes between ten to 15 years for it to bloom. Staffers at the botanic garden sai dthat they first found that the plant emerged a flower bud in early June. They first thought that it was just a leaf.
They later called plant experts to predict a date for the bloom. Those experts were unable to provide a fixed date because scientific literature has little data on the blooms. Even in their natural habitat in Sumatra, such blooms are rare events.
But on Tuesday at noon, the bloom was likely to occur that very night. Experts say that the peak for bloom was in the dawn, the next day. Witnesses said that the flower didn’t have a full bloom. Experts were unable to say why. They believe that it may be because the plant is relatively small and young or the bloom was hindered by the shape of the plant.
Yet, the plant is currently 5.3 foot tall and may grow even higher. A month ago it was not taller than a foot, but it managed to grow a couple of inches per day.
During the short bloom, the flower releases a foul odor to attract insects. Once the pollinators are inside, the plant closes its spathe and traps the insects inside.
In the meantime, thousands of female mini-flowers located at the center of the blossom called spadix wait for the pollen brought by the insects to fall on them. In just one day those mini-flowers reach maturity and die.
After that stage, male flowers try and reach maturity on the spadix. Insects then try to use the spadix as an escape route and in the process they end up being covered with pollen. Next, they carry that pollen to another corpse flower.
Image Source: Wikimedia