Corpse Flower Delights And Disgusts in South Australia

Thousands flock to unusual plant that smells like death

Decaying flesh. A dirty nappy. Spoiled milk. Whatever you think it smells like, everyone agrees the corpse flower doesn’t smell good.

But that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from visiting the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden in South Australia to take a whiff of the stinky plant.

More commonly known as the corpse flower, Amorphophallus titanium began opening on Monday 20 December in the botanic garden's glasshouse.

[Image: SA Botanic Gardens]

“Flowering events are rare because the plant is so difficult to cultivate, even in optimum conditions,” says Matt Coulter, the garden’s horticultural curator of plant propagation.

“The fact the flower, and its signature stench, will only last around 48 hours before it collapses on itself, makes it a must-see event for plant lovers and curious souls alike.”

The flower blooms for the first time at between eight and twenty years old, with a second bloom taking up to another ten years.

[Image: SA Botanic Gardens]

So what’s the point of the horrible smell?

In their native home, Sumatra, the stinky plants are located far apart and bloom infrequently, so they must attract lots of insects to ensure pollination. 

The corpse flower uses its strong odour to attract beetles and bees that are looking for the best place to lay their eggs.

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