Not-so-creature Feature: A corpse flower!

This summer I am spending 3 weeks in Dunedin with the Department of Conservation and Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust. On my first day in Dunedin I spent my afternoon exploring the botanical gardens and got to visit the beautiful corpse flower!

This rare giant, Amorphophallus titanum, in Dunedin is the southernmost flowering in the world! It’s rare flower reaches almost 3m in height and is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. This is the first flowering in almost 3 years (last flowered in 2018) and it likely won’t flower again for 2-3 years.

Corpse Flower, Dunedin Botanical Gardens

The bloom lasts for just 36-48 hours so I was very lucky to see it in action. This is my second corpse flower blooming I have seen, the first being Auckland Botanical Gardens collection in 2020 and now Dunedin Botanical Gardens in 2021! This is the second time this plant has flowered at the Dunedin Botanical Gardens – it arrived as a small golf-ball sized corm (tubular stem-like mass) weighing ~100g, or about the same as a banana. After 10 years, it grew to be 32kg and flowered it’s first flower in 2018.

This flower gets its name from the nauseating smell emitted during flowering. A smell so nauseating it has made people faint! While the plant spends most of it’s life as a large leaf with many leaflets, storing energy in it’s corm (stem-like mass) until flowering.

Corpse Flower, Dunedin Botanical Gardens

This smell attracts flies and other pollinators, moving pollen from one corpse flower to another. While the plant is native to Indonesia , it can be found in greenhouses all around the world.

I’ve got lots of critter photos to share so keep your eyes peeled for more Dunedin goodness!

W

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