Rare, giant, smelly corpse flower about to bloom for 24-48 hours at Longwood Gardens

A corpse flower – one of the most fragrant, largest and most ephemeral flowers in the plant kingdom – is about to open at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square.

When it does, the vivid brown and green flower of the 6ft tall Amorphophallus titanium will only last 24 to 48 hours and because of that limit, Longwood extended the hours on Wednesday and Thursday.

Corpse flowers like Sprout – the name given to the rare plant by the staff at Longwood – typically only bloom every 7-10 years.

When the event takes place in a botanical garden, it is usually greeted by crowds eager for the rare experience of sight and smell, but Longwood is subject to an opening plan forced by a coronavirus pandemic. restricted participation under timed ticketing. With tickets only available online, extended hours run until midnight Wednesday and again from 6:00 am to midnight Thursday.

The Corpse Flower is native to Sumatra, an Indonesian island.

Also known as titan anum, the plant was first described scientifically in 1878 by the Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari, then introduced into cultivation in Europe and then in the United States. It first flowered in culture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, London in 1889.

The first flowering in the United States was at the New York Botanical Garden in 1937.

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh had the plant in cultivation, where Romero flowered in 2016 and Barbara flowered in 2017. The plants are named after the late George Romero, a Pittsburgh filmmaker who created the modern zombie genre, and a central character in his “Film Night of the Living Dead.

The names are appropriate for plants that smell like rotten meat when in bloom. This smell attracts pollinators which normally feed on dead animals.

A rare and giant Corpse Flower is set to bloom for 24-28 hours at Longwood Gardens. Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens.

Longwood’s Corpse Flower started as a seed at the University of California at Berkley in 2008, moved to the Chicago Botanic Garden, where it previously bloomed, and then to the Philadelphia-area Gardens in 2018.

After repotting in March of this year, Sprout began showing new growth in May and was once again on public display.

Once the flower has bloomed and died, a gigantic leaf, as large as 20 feet high and 16 feet wide, will grow from the subterranean bulb, which is an underground energy storage organ made up of a swollen stem base. covered with sheets of scales.

For those who won’t be able to visit Longwood Gardens during Sprout’s short flowering period, the Gardens have put together a corpse flower livestream on its Youtube channel.

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About Walter Bartholomew

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