Corpse Flower: Amorphophallus Titanum Blooms in Berkeley
Amorphophallus Titanum Blooms for First Time in 15 Years
The Amorphophallus titanum (also called the titan arum or corpse flower) is ugly. Some may even say "fugly". It looks like male genitalia (Amorphophallus titanum means "misshapen penis"). It smells like rotten liver, and is pollinated by flies and beetles attracted to its stench. The titan arum also only blooms very rarely, and Berkeley, California residents and visitors can see it happen. Maladora, in the care of the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens, is in bloom.
So rare is the corpse flower's blooming that it tends to make headlines wherever it occurs.
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The plant (often misspelled as "Amorphophallus titanium") grows up to 20 feet high and 16 feet across, and, in bloom, gives off as much heat as a human body.
It's more like the Godzilla of the plant kingdom: big, stinky and likely to traumatize small children.
For the next few days the public can glimpse the monstrous, putrid bud on a Berkeley hillside as the 15-year-old Sumatran plant, also known as Amorphophallus titanium, blooms for the first time.
The titan arum (a name invented by David Attenborough for The Private Life of Plants) grows only in Sumatra, but also exists in botanical gardens around the world, where it blooms even more rarely than in the wild.
You can buy cuttings of the plant, but, funnily enough, not that many people want that smell in their own homes, even if the blooming occurs every few years.
"The worst of the smell is at night. It's a very private, intimate moment for the plant," said Licht.