Jill Layton
July 28, 2015 12:39 pm

There’s a flower living at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden that is unlike any flower we’ve ever seen in real life. Trudy, the “Corpse Flower,” is a titan arum plant, and it took an entire seven years to reach full bloom. People are super interested in this flower, whose species was first discovered in Sumatra, Indonesia in 1878, because of how huge gets and the foul odor it emits. Waiting seven years to see the world’s largest and rarest flowering structure may require too much patience for some, but for others, it’s completely worth it. Now that is some serious plant dedication.

The flower has a reproduction method that is super strange — it attracts insects that aid in pollination by giving off an odor of rotting flesh, the illusion of decay in appearance and in temperature — which is why the name “Corpse Flower” makes so much sense.

Sir David Attenborough was the first person to use the name “titan arum” to refer to the tropical plant in the BBC series The Private Lives of Plants, because he was worried viewers might be, er, offended by its Latin name “Amorphophallus titanum.” Whatever, titan arum is way easier to say, so we’ll take it.

The Corpse Flower isn’t just one single flower, but a stalk of both male and female flowers that are hidden at the base of the plant. The covering of the flowers is bright green on the outside and maroon on the inside, which makes for a pretty unusual sight when it’s opened. The female flowers mature before the male flowers (sound familiar? Jusssst kidding, you guys) to avoid self-pollination.

The plant typically takes seven years to bloom, but it may take even longer. In a normal life cycle, the plant produces one enormous branched leaf at a time that sort of looks like a 10 to 15 foot tree.

Plant enthusiasts are traveling from near and far to witness Trudy’s spectacular display in full bloom:

The actual flower bud usually takes months to form, but only stays open for one to two days before collapsing to start the cycle again (the odor only happens the day before the collapse). So, basically the flower is channeling the 1993 Dennis the Menace movie in a major way.

We are intrigued by titan arum, and we’d totally take a trip to Berkeley to see the strange and magnificent flower in bloom. Although, according to the Botanical Garden website, Trudy was in full bloom on July 26th. So, I guess we’ll have to wait another seven years.

(Featured images via Botanical Garden)

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