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Corpse Flower (Amorphopallus titanium)

Biological Facts:

  • Latin name: Amorphophallus titanum
  • The name Amorphophallus titanum means shapeless phallus
  • Common name: Corpse plant, Titan Arum, Bunga Bangkai
  • Native habitat: Sumatra in Indonesia
  • Family: Araceae.  This plant family is commonly referred to as the Arum Family. Other plants in this family include the Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Anthuriums,
    Dieffenbachia and Philodendrons.

General Facts:

  • The plant invests a lot of energy during blooming to heat up the sulfur-based compound in the flower stalk so the odor will
    spread several feet away from the plant to attract pollinators.
  • This species has the largest unbranched inflorescence of any herbaceous plant in the world.
  • A mature bloom can reach up to 7-12 feet in height, and a diameter of 3-4 feet. 
  • A mature bloom will release powerful carrion like odor, which attracts carrion beetles, flesh flies and sweat bees for pollination.
  • The bloom will last only 1-3 days.
  • The “stinking” odor lasts only the first 8 hours the bloom is open.
  • After the bloom dies, a leaf stalk will begin to emerge that resembles a tree sapling.
  • A mature leaf can reach up to 20 feet in height and 15 feet in diameter.
  • A mature tuber can weigh up to 120-170 pounds. 

Historical Facts:

  • First discovered in 1878 by Dr. Odoardo Beccari in Sumatra, Indonesia.
  • First cultivated at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England in 1887. 
  • First BLOOMED IN the United States in 1937 at the New York Botanical Garden. 

History of VA Tech’s Amphophallus plants:

These plants were grown from seed collected by James Symon in Sumatra in 1993.  http://www.aroid.org/genera/amorphophallus/symon/symon.html

Symon donated seeds to the International Aroid Society, who then shared seeds with their members. John Ford, a member of the Aroid Society and a frequent visitor to the VA Tech Biological Sciences Greenhouse Facilities donated a seedling to our department. They started another clone from its tuber and donated it to the Horticulture Greenhouses.