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‘Corpse flower’ about to bloom at Meise Botanical Garden

16:21 10/05/2021

The titan arum, otherwise known as the corpse flower, at the Meise Botanic Garden is expected to bloom this week. While it only blooms for 72 hours, it’s not called a corpse flower because it lies dormant the rest of the year. It’s called a corpse flower because of its smell.

That’s not the only notable thing about the titan arum. As its Latin name Amorphophallus titanium suggests, it has a specific and unusual shape, with one central, erm, shaft shooting up from its massive leaves. It is the largest flower in the world, with a height of 1.5 to three metres.

Spectacular as it is, it cannot keep it up for long, which explains the smell. In the wild, the flower must attract bees and other insects as quickly as possible so that pollination can take place. It does that through being pungent; the halictidae species of bee (also known as the “sweat bee”) can detect the bloom from miles away.

The titan arum also blooms irregularly. Meise is home to two and saw blooms in 2016, 2017, and twice in 2018. But it hasn’t happened since.

It is a Belgian tradition to hurry along to Meise – just over the border from Brussels – to see the corpse flower in bloom. There’s only about a three-day window from the time it blooms until it’s done, so anyone interested should sign up to receive an email or keep their eye on the website. Visitors can reserve a time slot to visit the garden, which includes seeing the titan arum.

Photo courtesy Meise Botanical Garden


Written by Lisa Bradshaw