Corpse flower set to bloom in Tauranga

The Corpse Flower at the Display house which will be flowering in the next couple of days. Supplied Image.

A flower with an unusual name and an unusual smell is set to bloom in Tauranga this week.

The Corpse Flower at the Display House in Robbins Park, Cliff Road, is set to flower within the next couple of days.

The Amorphophallus sp is also known as the Corpse Flower, is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched flower stem in the world.

Liani Smith from Aztec Garden says the Corpse Flower in the display house is a smaller variety of the A. titanum species.

There are several species but A.titanium is a giant flower, with a spike of up to three meters.

“It is a pretty rare plant and the flower has a putrid smell,” says Liani.

The ‘fragrance’ of the titan arum resembles rotting meat, attracting carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies that pollinate it. The inflorescence's deep red colour and texture contribute to the illusion that the spathe is a piece of meat.

During bloom, the tip of the spadix is approximately human body temperature, which helps the perfume volatilise; this heat is also believed to assist in the illusion that attracts carcass-eating insects.

After the flower dies back, a single leaf, which reaches the size of a small tree, grows from the underground corm. The leaf grows on a somewhat green stalk that branches into three sections at the top, each containing many leaflets.

The leaf structure can reach up to 6 metres tall and 5 metres across. Each year, the old leaf dies and a new one grows in its place. When the corm has stored enough energy, it becomes dormant for about four months. Then the process repeats.

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