Corpse Flower Blooming at the Houston Museum of Natural Science Cockrell Butterfly Center

. July 25, 2010 . 0 Comments

The world’s largest and smelliest plant, nicknamed, Lois the corpse flower, has come into bloom at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, attracting thousands of visitors a day.

The flower, nicknamed Lois after a staffer’s mother, has been in the museum for six years, after the museum paid 75 dollars for a tuber from a U.S. nursery, said Nancy Greig, director of Cockrell Butterfly Center of the Museum. No one knows what triggers a corpse flower to bloom and no one knows when it will bloom in its about forty years of lifetime, Greig also said.

The “Corpse Flower” (Amorphophallus titanum) gets its name from the pungent stench it emits in bloom – this, combined with the flower’s huge size and deep purple color, convinced the first explorers who encountered it in Sumatra to believe it was a man-eating plant! Since then, this extremely rare plant has gained celebrity status by having one of the largest, rarest, and smelliest flowers in the world. These flowers can reach heights of 7-10 ft and a diameter of 5-6 ft.

“The Corpse Flower is unique because it’s totally unpredictable,” said Dr. Nancy Greig, director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center. “No one really knows what triggers a given plant to flower, and a plant may only flower once in its lifetime. We’ve had ours for six years and this is the first time it has bloomed—we’re very lucky,” said Greig. “It may be the largest, smelliest flower in the world, but its beauty is unparalleled.”

Image: Zac our horticulturalist, took a picture of the inside of Lois’ spathe. Even though it looks quite dark from far away, this photo shows that Lois spathe is quite a lovely shade of purple!

Corpse Flower Images on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hmns/sets/72157624313053793/with/4820673745/

www.hmns.org

Category: Natural History

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