Smelly flower ready to bloom in Texas

GALVESTON ISLAND — Texas’ smelliest flower is about to bloom again at Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid.

And staff at the botanical gardens are holding their breath in anticipation.

The corpse flower is native to the rainforests of Sumatra in Indonesia. “Morphophallus titanum” is known by its common name of titan arum.

What makes it unique, outside of its rotting flesh smell when it flowers, is how rarely it blooms. The Galveston flower bloomed in June 2012 for the first time.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a corpse flower bloom once,” said Donnita Brannon, horticulture exhibit manager at Moody Gardens. “I’m over the moon to see it bloom twice.”

The staff has nicknamed the flower “Morticia” and it’s expected to bloom within the next week. It is one of only five to bloom in Texas and 122 in the United States since 1937.

One of the reasons for the plant’s rarity is its unreliable blooming schedule, Moody Gardens said. The flowers can take anywhere from two to 10 years to bloom with no guarantee that it will ever flower.

And the smell? Well, the plant uses it to attract pollinators such as insects which feed on dead animals or lay their eggs in rotting meat.

The pungent aroma increases from late evening until the middle of the night, when carrion beetles and flesh flies are active as pollinators, then tapers off towards morning.

The first bloom ever recorded in the United States took place at New York Botanic Garden in 1937.

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