In the world of bizarro flowering plants, there's Amorphophallus titanum (say ah-MORE-foh-fah-lus tie-TAH-num). In the wild, this rare plant is found only in Sumatra and Java in Indonesia. And it spends most of its life looking something like this.
Whoa, hey there, OWLconnected. I thought you said that this plant was weird! This plant looks super-ordinary.
Indeed we did, loyal reader. And we promise ... the weirdness is coming. (Especially if you live near Toronto ...)
Because yes, we agree. 99 percent of the time, the A. titanium is a pretty average-looking plant. Boring even. But then, once every seven to ten years, its life cycle takes an awesome—and awful—turn. The leafy plant dies off, leaving its roots system, or corm, to grow into something new and strange. A flower the size of a person that smells like the undead ...
The corpse flower!
High and mighty ... stinky!
Despite the scary name, this isn't some kind of man-eating plant. It isn't even carnivorous. But for a period of around 48 hours, this plant will bloom and attract pollinators by giving off one of the worst smells imaginable.
Those who have witnessed it say that it is some combination of sweaty socks, rotting flesh, stinky cheese, and poop. Yuck. What would ever be attracted to such an odour? Turns out from flies to carrion beetles and more, there are plenty of animals that are excited when the corpse flower opens its massive petals.
Limited time only!
And if we're being honest, you can put humans on that list, too. Because whenever a corpse flower in a greenhouse goes into bloom, people will wait in line for hours just to catch a whiff of this rare plant before it dies. Case in point, a corpse plant at the Toronto Zoo is nearly in bloom, and officials are making plans to accommodate huge lines.
#CorpseWatch update: Pablo “Pe-ew”caso grew 1.75 inches overnight. It now reaches 39.25” tall. The colour is starting to intensify on the spathe (skirt) and the base of the flower is starting to swell, which indicates the flower is progressing towards opening. #WhatsThatSmell pic.twitter.com/WcrBaVXRYj
— The Toronto Zoo (@TheTorontoZoo) September 7, 2018
This would definitely be a special occasion. There's never been a corpse flower in bloom in the Greater Toronto Area, and only four or five have ever bloomed in Canada. Even though these events have become a bit more common in recent years, this is still a big deal. A big, awful-smelling deal.
So what do you think? Are you excited about this opportunity? Or would you rather not stick your face near such a thing?