Sweet Bud~

Why doth thou,

stink so much?

This is the flower bud of a corpse plant, named for the rancid corpse like smell the flower emits when it blooms. The smell attracts carrion beetles who pollinate the flower. The flower itself is the tallest in the world and can grow up to twelve feet in the wild. You can get a sense of how huge the bud is by comparing it to the exit door in the first photo, and the child in the second. It grows only on the island of Sumatra and is extremely endangered with about 1000 of the plants left in the wild. The flower bud grows six inches a day, and when it blooms, the flower only lasts for 48 hours. There are two of these flowers at The San Diego Botanic Garden. Watch the first one bloom in a time lapse video below filmed by Botanic Garden staff, appropriately enough, on Halloween:

This plant reminds me of the Saturday Sci Fi movies I used to watch as a kid! The plant takes about ten years to bloom, and will only bloom every four-ten years thereafter. It’s corm can weigh 339 pounds! As the flower begins to bloom, the temperature of parts of the flower rise by up to 10 degrees Celsius in a process called thermogenesis. The second bud at the San Diego Botanic Garden is due to bloom around Thanksgiving. The garden stays open until midnight during the bloom and 5000 people queued to see the first flower! People drive from out of state to see it.

Notice the detail of the bud petals. It looks a bit like a giant Bok choy!

This is the base of the first flower that bloomed. The female flowers are the red ones on the bottom, and the males are the brown ones above. It is the male flowers that rise in temperature during the bloom.

Cheers to you from the soon to bloom, very tall, and very stinky corpse flower~

243 thoughts on “Sweet Bud~

    1. I was wearing a mask, due to covid, not the corpse! πŸ˜‰ I detected an odor, but not bad. I imagine it would be quite intense inside a green house, in full bloom, on a hot Holler night! And it is very hot here now.

  1. Great post about our new plant overlords, Cindy. I feel for those living in Sumatra but it’s wonderful that you could see and photograph it for us. Best, Babsje

    1. So your post was where I had seen this plant before! Thanks for the memory prompt. Your photos are wonderful! Only around five cultivated blooms occur each year, so your experience was remarkable დ

  2. Such interesting details! I love botanical gardens. Gothenburg have a fantastic botanical garden that I am planning on visiting this spring. Thank you for sharing this interesting plant. Happy Friday!

  3. Wow, that really is a big one! (as they say). Thanks for sharing that timelapse – amazing to see


  4. That’s spectacular, dear Cindy. We didn’t know that such a plant exists.
    Thanks for sharing, especially the video.
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    1. Here is what ‘Undark” journal says about this. “But fostering genetic diversity in the botanic gardens can be difficult, especially with finicky and rare plants. Like many plants, corpse flowers can reproduce in different ways. Sometimes, they reproduce asexually: a tuber-like bulge at the base of their stem, called a corm, grows large and eventually splits, producing multiple genetically identical plants. While this has effectively grown the raw number of corpse flowers in botanic gardens, it has done little for the population’s genetic diversity.

      Corpse flowers can also reproduce sexually, which requires pollination by insects β€” or, in botanic gardens, by humans wielding paint brushes. There’s no set schedule for a corpse flower to bloom; each plant takes a variable number of years and blooms unpredictably based on conditions such as heat, light, humidity, and other factors.

      To help breed on this unpredictable schedule, the Chicago Botanic Garden is creating a store of corpse flower pollen, which can be sent across the country when another specimen that isn’t closely related blooms. These targeted cross-pollination efforts could lead to more genetically robust offspring. While TREES has yet to lead to a crossing of corpse flowers, the Chicago Botanic Garden has used the methodology to strategically cross another plant called Brighamia insignis, also known as a cabbage-on-a-stick plant, which is critically endangered.”

      1. Thanks. I had heard of the corpse plant before but I am really interested in what you have said about the botanic gardens. We visit them when we can, but I never thought of them much beyond being a site where plants were shown off. The behind the scenes science is really interesting.

    1. It is amazing to see. We had one bloom at The Holler about two years ago. It attracted hordes of hummingbirds and butterflies. We have lots more, but they bloom only once as you know დ

    1. You have the plant in Bonn and another in Munich. I love hearing from people who have seen it bloom in cities all around our small world. It only blooms about five times per year worldwide outside of Sumatra დ

    1. Wonderful! I am hearing from people all over our small planet who live near cities who have the plant. The Kew Gardens were the first to propagate it outside of Sumatra დ

  5. I so enjoyed your tribute to the corpse plant, Cindy. You did a good job pointing out the immensity of it, with the words and images. And I had a fun chuckle in the opening lines. Great fun, and wonderful to see yet another marvel of Earth.

  6. I’ve heard of these but never seen one — thank you for showing me, Cindy. And I’m really glad the Internet doesn’t have a “scent button” because I understand these flowers have an awful smell to them!

    1. Thanks so much Amy Rose. I am pretty amazed by the plant myself. It communicates with these remarkable pheromones and the heat generating flowers are fascinating too. Glad you enjoyed & cheers to you დ

    1. How wonderful! It is incredible to hear from my friends from all over the world who have one of these rare beauties in their city. I am happy you have one in beautiful Belgium დ

  7. Absolutely stunning. I am constantly gobsmacked by nature. Years ago I lived way up north in a small very old cabin. There came this horrible smell. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from and was afraid that some critter had crawled into the wall space and died there. It was nasty. Then I got it! An indoor plant I’d had for a long time was flowering for the first time and the flowers stank!

  8. Stinky flower sounds like an oxymoron, lol, but this is fascinating. I’ve heard of them but didn’t know this much about them, it’s amazing they get so big and go through such a process and bloom so infrequently! Such an amazing plant. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Wow, to have the opportunity to see this would be something special. Almost twenty years ago I was able to witness the blooming of the ‘Queen of the Night” flower which was very cool – and became aware of rare plants at that time. This stinky flower you’ve captured brilliantly here is the holy grail for seekers of rare plants πŸ™‚ Beautifully done.

    1. Ahhhh……. So good to hear from you! How wonderful that you saw the blooming Queen of the Night. There is a night blooming cactus at The Holler that looks very similar to The Queen of the Night, but it is a desert, not jungle flower. I hope all is going well with you Randall დ

  10. Another stinky flower is that of the PawPaw tree, which we grow. It is pollinated by flies. Thus, the flowers smell like, literally, shit. Flies love it. We live in the woods, where PawPaws grow as understory trees, so we have lots of fresh air to dispute the smell, plus our animals make lots of manure, so our place smells like shit anyway. Great fruit in September. – Oscar

  11. What an amazing plant! So huge, and I love the texture created by the bok choy-like petals. We were at the botanical gardens this summer, and I enjoyed all the varigated leaves, but don’t remember the corpse plant. Of course it wasn’t in bloom and may not have been too much to look at?

  12. I am in awe, this is so fascinating 😁, nature is a constant delight and miracle. Lastly, I turned -the second image posted- upside down because I saw something. Ah! A woman wearing a lovely thin pleated skirt standing in the wind πŸ˜„. A post of wonder!

  13. Anonymous

    Not my kind of sweet bud…but amazing flora here as well we have this in our botanical conservatory…people have lined up to smell it πŸ₯΄the floral patterns of green are amazing Cindy ~ sending joy hedy β˜ΊοΈπŸ’«

  14. Timelesslady

    Wonderful photographs. The conservatory reminds me of our Longwood Gardens, on my side of the coast, near Philadelphia.

  15. They really are the wildest plants, aren’t they? We have one in the greenhouse at our university, and there’s one in a conservatory in Vancouver where my dad and family live. So, I’ve been “lucky” enough to witness one of these blooming in two different places. πŸ˜‚ I didn’t go see them in person while they were blooming because I don’t need to experience the smell. LOL!

    1. I am literally getting a global distribution map of this plant all over the world from my blogging friends. Thank you for adding your two and I am happy you have them and are protecting them დ

  16. What a fascinating plant although I haven’t seen it they do grow wild in Khao Sok National Park in Thailand but they are well protected and you can only be taken to the site by a guide to ensure they are not touched or taken…Stunning images and film πŸ™‚ x

  17. Ah.. the Amorphophallus titanum… someone gave to me a Voodoo Lilly, a cousin of this plant. I wondered what I’d do with it when it blossomed a terrible smelling bloom. I realized upon that thought, the beauty of this creature. I say creature because plants have an awareness. Because Voodoo Lilies grow in much shade, they cannot rely on bees our butterflies to propagate. They need flies to land on one after another for the species to survive. What attracts flies? Terrible odors for one. These, actually are beautiful, intelligent life forms. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Yes. I have heard of it. I believe Kew was the first to propagate the plant outside of Sumatra which was quite a significant achievement because propagation is not easy. დ

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