Carrion Madness!

Corpse flower

Amorphophallus titanum in full bloom

A fine specimen of the rare corpse flower, Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum), is now in bloom at the Houston Natural History museum!  Her name is Lois.  This is cause for great celebration and merriment among the nerdy denizens of this muggy metropolis. So what’s with all the hubbub bub?

  • Though A. titanium does not have the largest inflorescence of all plants, its size and appearance are similar to the penis of a blue whale.
  • Lois is only the second specimen to bloom in the state of Texas (29 in the USA), and is native to Indonesia
  • A carrion flower, she will emit a nauseating odor not unlike that of a rotting corpse in hopes of attracting flies and other “non-traditional” pollinators (supercool)
  • The smell is caused by putrescine (1,4-butanediamine) and cadaverine (1,5-pentanediamine)

The inflorescence has sprouted and has now crowned at a whopping height of 1.6m as of July 11, 2010 (that’s 63.5 inches for the non-metric among you).  Yes, maximum height has been achieved and all that is left is to open and stink higher than goat vomit on a hot tin roof.  I’m waiting and watching the twitter feed @hmns to plan my trip.  The lines are long and I want to smell the damn thing if I stand around for a couple hours.  (There’s also a webcam, but it has been crashing regularly due to high traffic)

Check out this fun time lapse video from Kew gardens that tracks the blooming process of a similar bud over the course of several days.

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