The legendary Sir David Attenborough first used the name titan arum to refer to this magnificent tropical plant in the BBC series The Private Lives of Plants because he felt viewers might be offended by the plant’s Latin name, Amorphophallus titanum. Titan arum might have suited Attenborough’s viewers, but the plant still seduces people with one of the world’s largest and rarest flowering structures and and a reproduction method that beguiles insects with the illusion of decay in appearance, odor and even temperature; hence the name “Corpse Flower”.
The “Corpse Flower” is not actually a single flower but an inflorescence (a stalk of many flowers). The flowers are a mixture of tiny male and female flowers held out of sight at the base of the central phallus-like structure (spadix) surrounded by a pleated skirt-like covering (spathe) that is bright green on the outside and deep maroon inside when opened. The female flowers mature before the male (pollen producing) flowers which avoids self-pollination.
Ever since this plant was first discovered in Sumatra, Indonesia in 1878 by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari, it has excited world-wide attention due to its massive size, fascinating appearance and habit of producing a foul odor resembling rotten flesh (to attract insects that pollinate it). During this process, the ‘flower-spadix’ actually heats up to human body temperature. UC Berkeley physicists experimented with an atomic magnetometer to measure possible biomagnetism of Trudy’s flower stalk on 2009. Further information on this topic can be found HERE.
The plant typically requires at least 7 years before it blooms but it may take even longer. In the normal life cycle, the plant produces one single enormous branched leaf at a time that looks like a small tree reaching 10-15 feet. The leaf will go completely dormant after about 16 months while its underground tuber ‘rests’ for awhile. When it next sprouts, it will produce either another single leaf or an enormous bloom.
The flower bud may take months to form but only remains open for a day or two before collapsing to restart the cycle. The characteristic ‘corpse’ odor is only produced for about a day before the collapse. If pollinated, the stalk grows into a large club-like head of orange-red seeds.
Trudy continues to produce pollen but is collapsing slowly. The spadix remains upright but the spathe is closing and the characteristic stench is barely detectable.
Trudy is a ‘he’. The ‘flower’ is now wilting and has started producing pollen which is being collected through a ‘door’ cut into the side of the spathe. We will collect pollen throughout the day. It is no longer emitting strong odors.
TRUDY DID NOT OPEN LAST NIGHT. Opening appeared to begin around 7 pm yesterday, with occasional whiffs of odor, but the titan still looks about the same at 7 am today. It seems highly likely that it may open late this afternoon or evening but our predictions have proven inaccurate this far. Trudy is playing coy!
Trudy the Titan is still biding its time. There was little change over night with about 1 inch of growth. The skirt (spathe) is 35 inches high and the waist measures 40 inches. We still expect blooming sometime soon but it is difficult to predict accurately.
Bloom looked imminent last night but Trudy is still not open this morning. No further growth measured (typical when getting ready to open). The spathe coloration, especially along the seam, has intensified. There is a good chance it may open tonight or tomorrow night!
Trudy has reached 55 inches this morning (2 inches since yesterday) and continues to show more color around the spathe, a sign of pending bloom in next few days.
Trudy is being ‘watched’ by a time-lapse camera to catch the moment.
Trudy, the titan, continues to grow: measured 53″ this morning (2″ overnight). Still not enough color to predict opening time accurately. Stay tuned for more updates!
BREAKING NEWS: Trudy the Titanic Corpse Flower is back for a third time. This image shows its condition this morning. The plant is now about 51″ high (grew 3″ since yesterday) and 13″ in diameter The green spathe is beginning to show some color, suggesting that bloom may occur within the week. We will keep you informed of progress with daily email updates.The smell only lasts for a day, so get ready!
The Garden received seeds of Titan Arum in 1995 from James Symon of San Francisco. He collected them on Sumatra in 1994 and distributed them to several botanical institutions.
The Garden has enjoyed 8 titan arum blooms since 2005 and traditionally each was given a nickname.
2005 Trudy, 7/15/2005; 5ft, 6”. This plant was a ‘sibling’ of our collection raised locally by Bill Weaver, and loaned to the Garden for its bloom. It rebloomed in 2009 & 2012.
2007 Titania, 8/6/2007, 6ft. This plant was pollinated with pollen from Trudy. It set seed which was harvested in spring 2008.
2008: Odora, 6/29/2008, 44”
2008: Odoardo, 7/15/2008, 54”
2009: Tiny, 7/5/2009, 35”
2009: Trudy, 7/14/2009, 71”
2010: Maladora, 6/29/2010, 45”
2010: Little Stinker, 7/16/2010, 34” (pollination failed)
2015: Trudy, 7/26/2015
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Free shuttle service from Lawrence Hall of Science from 11 am – 6 pm on Sunday
Last entry 30 minutes before closing
Friday, July 24 | Garden & Tropical House open until 7:00 pm
Saturday, July 25 | Regular hours, Garden & Tropical House open until 5:00 pm
Sunday, July 26 | Garden & Tropical House open until 7:00 pm