In a rather disappointing end to a much anticipated event at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the corpse flower needed a hand in blooming after failing to do so by itself or producing a lot of the infamous pungent odor.
It seems the specimen of titan arum or amorphophallus titanium, which was called simply “Spike” at the botanical garden in Glencoe, did not perform well under the pressure of the 50,000 viewers it attracted by mere reputation. It’s an exotic flower, commonly found in the rainforests of Sumatra or Indonesia.
The process of blooming in itself is slow and does not last for very long. In fact, it can take between 7 and 10 years to fully display its magnificent singular leaf, or even longer, and it only sustains its bloom for a few days. Due to the short window of opportunity, the plant secretes a powerful smell that give it its informal name of “corpse flower”.
The flower’s scent is a reminder of the disgusting and pungent odor of a dead body, which it uses to quickly and successfully attract insects in a short span of time for pollination. It uses all its resources and gives off a powerful smell to draw in as many as possible. However, “Spike” has only managed to draw locals and tourists, and very few to no pollinators.
The corpse flower’s outer sheath presented itself with a worrying rubbery texture, which officials took as a bad sign and proceeded to manually forcing the bloom by cutting away the outer layer.
According to conservation scientist, Patrick Herendeen, the trademark smell was much less pungent than it had been a few days earlier, which indicated that the plant had passed its prime without even blooming.
Further research into the unfortunate event has led experts to believe that the 68-inch tall plant did not have enough energy to display its magnificent leaf. What distinguishes the titam arum species is that they are not solely one flower, but actually a collection of both female and male flowers that produce the one single great leaf.
Upon cutting out away its protective outer layer, experts have ascertained that the female flowers dried while waiting for the male flowers to mature, the latter of which failed to do so. Disregarding any sexist implication, it meant that there was still hope for the corpse flower’s future after all. If the male flowers mature with time, there is a chance that the pollen will be frozen for future generations.
Visitors were left with a bitter taste in their mouth from the experience, and just a mildly bad smell up their nose, but they reportedly took pictures with the corpse flower regardless of the unexpectedly disappointing outcome.
Image source: fortune.com