If you haven’t already guessed, corpse flowers didn’t get their name by accident. On the rare occasion that they bloom–about once every six years–these pungent flowers actually do smell like decaying, rotting flesh.
And, because of their extremely large size (some up to 6 feet tall!), that less-than-lovely aroma travels far and wide.
“Botanists have suggested that this noxious smell helps to attract flies and other insects that typically eat decaying material, so they can pollenate the flower.
So you can think of the corpse flower as a kind of ‘anti-flower’, because instead of attracting pollinators with its sweet smelling nectar, it attracts them with carrion-like smells.”
With so many unusual characteristics, the corpse flowers have fascinated botanists for centuries. According to sciencealert.com, “The scientific name for corpse flowers is Amorphophallus titanium, which literally means “giant misshapen penis” in Latin (no, really).” With virtually no resemblance to other, more “traditional” flowers in size, shape or smell, scientists the world over have been trying to figure out these mysterious plants.
Because they’re so large and flowering takes immense energy, seeing the flowers bloom is an incredibly rare sight. There have only been 157 recorded blooms ever between 1889 and 2008, so research on the corpse flowers is still in its infancy.
But weirdly, there have been seven corpse flowers bloom in the US this year alone and scientists are trying to figure out why. It could be that corpse flowers are becoming popular so they are simply more of them, there are more seeds being pollinated, and a host of other possible explanations. No one knows for sure, so be sure and catch one of these smelly, mysterious blooms for yourself–you never know when you’ll see one again!