20 Jan 2021

Foul smelling large rare flower blooms in Auckland and Dunedin

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:55 pm on 20 January 2021

Nature lovers have queued up to inhale the scent of rotting corpses emitted from the rare Amorphophallus Titanum blooming in Auckland and Dunedin this month.

Among them was native carnivorous plant researcher Taylor Davies-Colley who tells Afternoons it’s an awesome plant to see in person.

The Amorphophallus titanum, also known as the corpse flower, in full blossom at the Winter Garden in Auckland Domain.

Photo: Supplied / Nick Lloyd

“It lifts up what looks like a huge single flower, but is actually a group of tiny flowers all together.”

With the flowering comes the pungent aroma designed to attract insects to pollinate it.

“What’s really exciting and makes it a little bit more special is that this only occurs, in captivity, every two to five years depending on conditions. But, in the wild, it can be up to 10 years or more. It’s a really cool species to see in action.”

Davies-Colley says that while Amorphophallus Titanum is not a carnivorous plant, it similarly has very strange behaviours you wouldn’t see in your garden plants.

He says the one in Dunedin is around 1.5 metres in height now that its flowered.

“It’s quite an intimidating presence when it’s in front of you, it’s a big flower. When I went in there, first thing in the morning, you can’t help but get punched in the face by this musty aroma what smells like rotten flesh or feety type smell.

“You’re kind of half in awe of how massive and amazing and beautiful the flower is, but at the same time kind of getting attacked by this quite cool but smelly aroma.”

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