Smell ya later, Longwood Gardens!

July 24, 2020

I took advantage of Longwood Gardens’ Father’s Day sale to buy a gift membership for my family. Little did I know that our first visit would happen during such a momentous time - a rare corpse flower bloomed July 13. The last Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum) to bloom at Longwood was in 1961!

Longwood affectionately named their smelly friend Sprout. He was given to them by Chicago Botanic Garden in 2018, as part of a worldwide conservation effort to ensure the species does not go extinct. His native habitat, the rainforest of Sumatra, is threatened and shrinking.

Titan arums only bloom every 4 to 5 years, but make up for lost time by causing quite a stink! Literally. They’re commonly called corpse flowers because as they bloom, the stench of rotting meat attracts native nocturnal pollinators looking to feed. The smell of decay can travel up to a half-mile to grab the attention of carrion beetles and flies!

Despite the pose I’m making in the Facebook profile picture I posted last Friday, that smell had dissipated by the time I arrived. His stink only lasted about 12 hours, and the bloom itself only held up for approximately two days. Just a couple hours after I left, the spadix flopped. But Longwood captured his beautiful bloom forever in the video below!

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