On Wednesday the botanic garden in Denver was visited by around 12.000 visitors who paid to see a huge corpse flower blooming for the first time. The number of visitors was quite high on Thursday as well reaching 9.000 people. People had to wait three hours in line to get to see the flower.
Also known as titan arun the corpse flower releases a nagging odor similar to decomposing corpse with which it attracts beetles and flies which are its main pollinators. When it started to bloom the plant was five feet and three inches tall. The corpse plant is native to Sumatra, Indonesia and it can take 15 years to bloom for the first time. The one in Denver took 13 years.
The plant has a life cycle with three stages. In the first stage it sends up one leaf that will die off leaving a tuber dormant underground. This is the dormancy stage. Afterwards the corpse flower sends up another leaf which is bigger or it grows a flower. The flower which bloomed this week at the Denver Botanic Gardens is the first of its kind that bloomed in the Rocky Mountain area.
Horticulturist Aaron Sedivy explained that it was a bit difficult to predict the date when the plant would bloom since there is not much data about these plants. Even in Indonesia which is their native habitat they are very rare. Sedivy further added:
Around the first of June, we realized that it was not a new leaf emerging. We had a growth chart we were comparing it with — just one — and we had a few plants that had near-daily photos of their progression.”
The blooming process of the corpse flower lasted for only 24 hours. After it attracts insects with its odor of rotting meat the flower closes its spathe, the structure similar to petals in order to stop the insects from getting out. Inside the flower there is a spadix, the spike in the center of the bloom which is made out of thousands of tiny flowers. The insects use this as an escape ladder. They climb up the spadix and get covered in the pollen which they will carry to other plants.
Howver Sedivy said that they do not intend to pollinate the flower for now since it is the first time it bloomed and it would be stressful for it to set seed.
Image Source: cpr.org