Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanium) is more commonly known as the Corpse Flower, due to its strong odor resembling a decaying body. The odor and deep purplish-brown color (similar to the color of raw meat) attracts flies and beetles that will pollinate the flower.
The Corpse Flower is native to the western rainforests of Sumatra, a large island in the Indonesian Republic south of Thailand and Malaysia between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.
A. titanium is cultivated worldwide because it is becoming scarce in the wild.
About Titan Arum or Corpse Flower
When it blooms, the flower emits its foul odor that becomes stronger at night. Some of the chemical compounds in the flower’s scent are the same as those in rotting fish, sweaty socks, mothballs, and limburger cheese.
In addition to its powerful scent, A. titanium is also considered to be one of the largest flowers in the world (technically, the largest unbranched inflorescence). The blossom emerges from a large corm or tuber and can grow to a height of 6-12 feet. It’s phallic appearance was forbidden to ladies during Victorian times.
Another oddity of the flower is the long time between blooms, anywhere from 2-3 years for mature plants or 7-10 years particularly for the first bloom. Each bloom lasts between 24-48 hours. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Between blooms, A. titanium undergoes several 12-18 month cycles of photosynthesis or leaf production, followed by a dormant period. During these cycles, the plant stores food in the corm that will be used for the rapid growth of its flowering period.
When a Corpse Flower blooms, it is always a highly anticipated event. If you visit a flowering plant, your eyes may water and your clothes may carry some of the odor home.
Listed below are the locations of Corpse Flowers on display in the Seattle area, along with the date of last bloom and estimated next bloom.
Corpse Flowers in Seattle
After blooming, Corpse Flowers are typically returned to off-site storage and care until the next bloom cycle.
Amazon Seattle Spheres Indoor Garden Corpse Flower (named Bellatrix) bloomed in June 2019. Anticipate Bellatrix next bloom around 2023-2026. A second plant (named Morticia) bloomed in October 2018–so anticipate Morticia next bloom around 2022-2025. Both flowers were donated to the Spheres bythe University of Washington Botany Department.
University of Washington Biology Greenhouse is constructing a new facility expected to open in mid-2019. The last full bloom at UW Greenhouse was in 2008, however during its closure, UW Botany loaned Corpse Flower Dougsley to Volunteer Park Conservatoru. Expect Dougsley next bloom around 2020-2023.
Volunteer Park Conservatory Corpse Flower fully bloomed in 2014–so anticipate the next bloom around 2020-2021. A second plant (named Dougsley) began to bloom in 2016, but halted after the first night. Dougsley was on loan from UW Botany during construction of its new facility.
Catch the Amazon Corpse Flower 2019 bloom on this King 5 video: