Grand Rapidians will have a rare chance to see – and smell – the blooming corpse flower this week when it reaches peak bloom inside the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) – also called titan arum – is one of the largest and most rare flowering plants in the world. It can take up to a decade to produce a flowering structure and when it blooms is open for only 24 to 36 hours.
FMG said the flower is expected to reach peak bloom between Thursday, July 12 and Saturday, July 14. Guests can experience the sights and smells of this rare event during Meijer Gardens’ normal hours of operation.
The flower was given the nickname corpse flower due to the nauseating odor it emanates while in bloom, similar to “rotting flesh.” This feature attracts carrion beetles and flies that are the natural pollinators of Amorphophallus titanum.
Despite its unpleasant odor, this is an event not to be missed.
“As a professional horticulturist, this is incredibly exciting,” said Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture at FMG. “Many people go through their entire careers never seeing an example like this in person. We are thrilled that something that we started as a seedling here at Meijer Gardens 18 years ago is coming to fruition and that the public is showing such great interest.”
Amorphophallus titanum is the largest unbranched inflorescence (a cluster of flowers on a spike) in the plant kingdom, growing up to 12 feet tall in its natural habitat and about six to eight feet tall in cultivation. Although the enormous plant in bloom resembles one giant flower, it actually comprises a fleshy central spike called a spadix that holds two rings of male and female flowers, wrapped by the frilly spathe, a modified leaf that resembles a petal.