Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Morty the Corpse Flower, on the verge...

I met Morty! The Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens has a star attraction currently. Morty (short for Morticia) the Corpse Flower (titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum) is set to bloom sometime within the next week. Commonly named because when in full bloom the flower will have the scent of a rotting mammal corpse. The smell will permeate not just the room in which the flower is located, but they are anticipating the smell to permeate the entire botanical gardens facility for the length of its bloom – usually 24-36 hours.

And when in bloom it will attract every bug and beetle around, as well as attracting curious tourists.

The corm takes up pretty much the whole pot you see here – there is very little soil in the large planter. The corm, I was told, looks like a cross between a bulb and a potato. And weighs in at 120 pounds.

Morty, just over 7' tall is still growing. On Monday, her grew 5" alone. When he stops growing, a day or two later, he will bloom. After he blooms, he will die back and a single leaf, the size of a tree will be formed. The single leaf can be as much as 20' tall. Each year, the old leaf dies and a new one grows in its place. When the corm has stored enough energy, usually in 2-10 years, it becomes dormant for about four months. Then, the blooming process repeats.

The plant only grows wild in the equatorial rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. The first bloom by a cultivated (not wild) flower was at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London in 1889. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for there to be five or more flowering events in gardens around the world in a single year.

The flower will open between mid-afternoon and late evening and remains open all night. Most spathes begin to wilt within twelve hours, some have been known to remain open for 24–48 hours. So the Botanical Gardens are prepared to be open any and all hours it takes to keep Morty supplied with adoring fans.

In Pittsburgh, the Phipps Conservatory set  attendance records when its corpse flower drew more than 12,000 visitors over a two-day period last August – 9,200 on the first day alone.

I will try to get out to the Botanical gardens when Morty blooms. I'm nervous about the smell. But probably not as nervous as the people that have booked weddings at the Botanical Gardens over the next two weekends!

You can follow Morty’s bloom on Twitter, @MortyStinks. Morty tweets himself about his daily happenings – you’ll love it.


The deep purple of the bloom is now just a blush on the spathe which will be the bloom.

Sexy curves. Until it smells like a rotting corpse.



Morty has freckles!


4 comments:

  1. Tell me all about it sometime... Going to purposely see something that stinks seems a bit strange to me!

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    Replies
    1. It didn't end up stinking as badly as I thought it might. I guess it was stronger at night and early morning. My garbage this week smelled worse.

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  2. I have to get out there, even if Morty drives me out. It is such an usual plant. Love your photos from all angles.

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    Replies
    1. It is strikingly beautiful. Now I cannot wait to see its single leaf - the largest leaf in the world!

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