It is an amusing irony of nature that one of the world’s largest and rarest flowers also smells absolutely awful. In fact, the amorphophallus titanium is locally known in Indonesia as bunga bangkai (corpse flower), which should give you a pretty accurate description of what it smells like (the rotting odor helps attracts carrion insects).
But beyond its rotting aroma, the corpse is also known for having “the largest unbranched inflorescence” of any flowering plant in the world (thanks Wikipedia!) and for opening its petals to bloom for only 48 hours.
Wild corpse flowers, which can only be found in the rainforests of Sumatra and Malaysian Borneo, only bloom once every few years. Cultivated specimens bloom even more rarely, with only a hundred-some recorded since the first documented case of a cultivated corpse flower bloom took place at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London in 1889. Recently one of those extremely rare cultivated blooms happened at the Rumah Perubahan (House of Change), a social enterprise training center in Bekasi, West Java.
This photo, shared on Monday by popular Islamic preacher Yusuf Mansur, shows the blooming corpse flower alongside its owner, economist and Universitas Indonesia Professor Rhenald Kasali.
Prof. Rhenald said he first received the corpse flower as a bulb back in 2007, although he didn’t know it was a corpse flower at the time. He simply planted it in his garden and only realized what it was later (perhaps from the smell?).
“If it blooms in the night it really stinks, because it eats insects. But the flower’s sensational beauty beats the smell,” Prof. Rhenald said as quoted by Detik.