Radio Sweden's Loukas Christodoulou and the notorious bloom. Photo: Sveriges Radio
biology

The indiscreet charm of the corpse flower

3:59 min

A tropical greenhouse in northern Stockholm has managed to make the rare titan arum flower bloom.

The last time it was seen in Sweden was back in 1935. And it is attracting a lot of visitors, despite the fact that this 'corpse flower' has a strong smell of rotting flesh. Or maybe because of this fact.

Karin Martinsson is the head curator of the Edvard Anderson greenhouse, in Stockholm's Bergius botanical garden.

She says this is a flower that every botanical garden wants to be able to show.

The flower bloomed on Wednesday, but when Radio Sweden talked to Karin Martinsson, on Thursday morning, the notorious smell was already gone. "Tt only flowers for 48 hours, and the first phase is when it smells," says Karin Martinsson. "So yesterday evening there was a terrible stench, smelling like a dead animal. And of course that's the intention. Since it flowers for such a short time it has to attract a lot of attention." But this is a 'dishonest flower' she adds. There is not nectar in store for the insects that polinate the tinan arum, just the empty promise of rotting flesh.

The staff at the greenhouse are hopeful that, now they have managed to get this 16-year old plant to flower, they have cracked the secret, and the next blooming may only be five or six years away.

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