Morty the corpse flower has a friend – and it’s attracting attention at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. The plant isn’t blooming and emitting an odor like that of rotting flesh, as Morty did in August. But the new corpse flower plant – it’s actual name is amorphophallus titanum – is growing. And growing.
The plant stood just 2 feet tall a few weeks ago, and now stands in the Palm Dome at nearly 8 feet, with expectations it will reach 16 to 20 feet in several weeks. It all depends on the size of the corm, which is like a plant’s bulb. “It’s cool to see the other part of the plant’s life cycle, and it’s also pretty amazing because it’s huge, and we don’t have other plants like that in our collection. It’s very dramatic, this plant,” said Erin Grajek, the Botanical Gardens’ marketing director.
Corpse flowers bloom every six to 10 years, and it’s impossible to know for sure when that rare occasion is going to occur, although it could be years away. When Morty bloomed, the Botanical Gardens’ single-day attendance record was broken in successive days.
The Botanical Gardens purchased three of the rare tubers, including Morty, in July from a Massachusetts nursery. Like Morty, the plant with the recent growth spurt is speckled and the top – where the leaf is starting to emerge – is bright green and ruffly in appearance.
The plant looks like a tree, but it’s actually a leaf structure. The leaf structure saves energy to eventually produce the flower. The flower, when it appears, is one of the largest in the world, and because it is rare in captivity, it is seldom seen in a public setting.
Corpse flowers are native to the rain forests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and because they require warm, humid greenhouse conditions, are difficult to grow. The Botanical Gardens had 4,970 visitors during the two days Morty was in bloom, and nearly 9,000 from when it was announced Morty was on display through that weekend.
Morty’s friend does not have a name yet. A naming contest is expected soon.