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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.

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.