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Published on May 31, 2012
On May 19, 2012, a unique Amorphophallus titanum bloomed at the Missouri Botanical Garden! Commonly known as Titan Arum or the "corpse flower," it is a large, fast-growing plant in the Aroid family. Few of these plants exist in cultivation, and they bloom only rarely and under just the right conditions. Of the plants in cultivation, less than 130 flowerings have been documented in the world in nearly 120 years. On the extremely infrequent occasion that a Titan Arum comes into flower, the intense, foul odor, emitted from a tall spike of small, crowded flowers, lasts just a few days.
Every year or two, the plant sends up one long, gigantic, rolled-up leaf that unfurls its umbrella-like blade during a period of about three weeks. The leaf lives for one or two years before the plant goes into a dormant period that lasts from a few months to a year. The inflorescence, a giant flowering structure opens quickly, often in just a couple of hours. It maintains its full form for about three to five days, with peak bloom (and the awful odor) lasting about 24 hours.
The full bloom process documented here lasted approximately 15 days, with the plant entering peak bloom on the afternoon of May 19, 2012 and then starting to recede by the following morning.