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Rare corpse flower attracts 1,300 visitors

10:44 13/07/2015

More than 1,000 people have visited Ghent University’s botanical garden to admire a rare plant that has bloomed for the first time in 10 years. 

During its bloom, which lasts 48 hours, the flowers of the large titan arum open and it releases a strong, unpleasant smell, which is why it is known as the “corpse flower”. Described as a rotting fish smell, it attracts flies that pollinate the flower.

Last Thursday, the female flowers bloomed, followed by the male on Friday. The 1,300 visitors were able to admire the bloom until Friday evening. The flower could also be followed via webcam. While 10 years ago the seedlings were only 10 centimetres tall, the plant’s tuber now weighs about 22 kilograms.

“A characteristic of all species of the titan arum family is the formation of a fleshy spike on which small flowers grow,” said professor Paul Goetghebeur of the university’s biology department. “This is surrounded by a special purple leaf called the bract, which will go horizontal and then wither.”

The university’s botanical garden has a large collection of corpse flower species, which are examined to improve knowledge on biodiversity.

Photo courtesy UGent

Written by Andy Furniere