On June 8, 1937 a Sumatran Titan Arum bloomed in the U.S. The world’s largest flower, the Titan Arum is also known as the “corpse flower” because it gives off a putrid rotting-corpse fragrance. Fascinated by its strange appearance, massive size, and bizarre odor, people have lined up to see and sniff this unusual plant! Since it’s so huge, it can take up to a decade for a Titan to build up enough energy to bloom, making each occurrence a special event.
Native to the jungles of Sumatra in Indonesia, and brought to the United States by Italian botanist Dr. Odoardo Beccari, the Titan bloomed successfully in the New York Botanical Garden. There have also been blooming samples of this plant in Kew Gardens in London, and the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC. The Titan can survive outside of its natural rainforest habitat by being planted in a carefully-controlled greenhouse.
The reason the plant smells so bad? To attract bugs of course! Many bugs love the smell of decaying flesh, since it usually means there’s a dead animal to eat. Drawn in by the smell, bugs land on the flower, picking up pollen. This allows the bugs to transport pollen much farther and faster than the Titan ever could on its own, helping the plant to reproduce.
A plant so huge and stinky that people will line up just to check it out? Gross, fascinating, and super cool!