Just in time for Halloween, a rare “corpse flower” that gets its nickname from its putrid smell is expected to bloom next week at Dartmouth College’s greenhouse.
Named Morphy, the titan arum is native to Sumatra’s equatorial rainforests and has a long, pointy stalk with a skirt-like covering and tiny yellow flowers at its base. It blooms just for several days. When it does, it has an odor described as rotting flesh, a decaying animal or even soiled baby diapers.
The plant is decorated with bats, spiders and an arm reaching out of the soil, holding a sign that says, “Help me!” It’s been growing several inches a day. By Friday morning, it reached 71.5 inches (1.82 meters).
Visitors can go to the greenhouse or see the plant on Dartmouth’s webcam .
The 15-year-old lime green and burgundy plant last bloomed in 2016, and before that, in 2011. Last time, it reached a height of 7 feet, 6 inches (1.98 meters).
“The older a corpse plant gets, the more likely it’s going to flower more often,” greenhouse manager Kim DeLong said.
Morphy’s getting bigger, too. DeLong said after the last bloom, the plant grew a large leaf that reached 10 feet (3 meters), nearly touching the greenhouse ceiling. The leaf stayed open for 13 months and was busy photosynthesizing and storing up energy.
Once the leaf died in June, greenhouse staff repotted Morphy’s swollen underground tuber, which weighed 80 to 90 pounds (36 to 41 kilograms). In 2016, it was only about 30 pounds (14.6 kilograms).