Amorphophallus titanum, the titan arum, simultaneously intrigues and repels. The species boasts a stunning flowering structure – one of the world’s largest – but this magnificent display is accompanied by the putrid scent of rotting flesh. While we perceive the aroma as distinctly unpleasant, it beguiles pollinating insects.
The “corpse flower” is not actually a single flower but an inflorescence (a stalk of many flowers). Minute male and female flowers form at the base of a central phallus-like structure (spadix) which is surrounded by a pleated sheath (spathe). When mature, the spathe has a bright green exterior with a dramatic maroon interior.
Titan arums have underground storage organs (corms) which alternate between producing massive solitary leaves and enormous inflorescences. The corm fluctuates in size during each growth phase. As energy is expended to generate a leaf (or inflorescence) the corm shrinks but as photosynthetic energy is stored, the corm enlarges. The latter process enables flowering and afterward the corm will enter temporary dormancy.
The inflorescence bud may take months to form but the inflorescence remains open for only a day or two before collapsing. During this process, the spadix heats up to body temperature and produces the characteristic ‘corpse’ odor. This powerful scent attracts insect pollinators so is only produced at maturity, about a day before the collapse. If pollinated, the stalk grows into a large club-like head of scarlet seeds.
Maladora Watch 2017
Friday, October 27
Maladora is still open but beginning to close. Faint odor is still present in bursts.
Thursday, October 26
Maladora has opened!
Wednesday, October 25th – 10 pm
Maladora is opening!
Maladora Update: Maladora’s spathe began to spread at 5 pm today, just as the Garden was closing. Infrequent, but noticeable, blasts of odor are now detectable.
The inflorescence should be open and in full glory early morning. The display and odor only last for a day or two, so don’t miss the chance to view this incredible corpse flower.
Tuesday, October 24th
Maladora’s spadix continues to elongate – it is now 35.75 inches! While the spathe remains tightly furled, the interior and edge color is is decidedly more pronounced.
Friday, October 20th
As of this evening Maladora is 33.75 inches. The interior of the spathe is developing a deeper maroon color but it is not yet unfurling.
Thursday, October 19th
Our little titan is still growing! It reached 33.25 inches today although it is still not open.
Wednesday, October 18th
Maladora grew to 32.75 inches today. It’s inflorescence is still not fully expanded but we expect it will open this weekend or early next week.
Monday, October 16th
The spadix is clearly visible but the spathe is still tightly appressed. Height now 29 3/4 inches above mulch line
Sunday, October 15th
It’s a bloom! Spadix is visible. Check back for updates!