Posted May 12, 2021

Rare flowers prepare to unfurl at Temple Ambler

The corpse flower typically only blooms every seven to 10 years.

One large and one small corpse flower prepare to bloom.
Photography By: 
James Duffy
The Temple University Ambler Campus is preparing for a highly unusual event.

Area plant lovers will have an opportunity to see (and smell) something extraordinary when two members of the species Amorphophallus titanum, also known as a corpse flower, bloom at the Temple University Ambler Campus Greenhouse.

Corpse flowers can grow to about seven feet tall while the leaves may spread a full 12 feet and the tuber, a part of the root system, can weigh in at a monstrous 150 pounds. 

It’s rare to see even one of these flowers because the plant typically only blooms once every seven to 10 years and, in some cases, may take up to 15 years. And the bloom itself only lasts a couple of days. 

When the flowers open, this will be the first time an amorphophallus titanum has bloomed at the Ambler Campus.

Ben Snyder, TYL ’17, a horticulture technician and manager of the Greenhouse Education and Research Complex at Temple Ambler, is currently growing several of these corpse flowers, some of which are as tall or taller than he is. He has been watching these particular buds very closely for the past month or so trying to determine if they were going to be flowers or leaves. 

“They’re flowers,” Snyder confirmed. “The outer areas of the bud have now split open, revealing the petal-like structure inside.”

And the plant is not called a corpse flower for nothing. When in bloom, it looks and smells like death.  

“The stench, and the speckled maroon and pink coloring, is this flower’s way of attracting pollinators,” Snyder explained. “Rather than bees and butterflies, it attracts anything that would naturally be attracted to rotting meat, such as beetles and flies.”   


Please note: The Greenhouse is not currently open to the public. Details on public viewing of the corpse flowers and how to register are coming soon. 

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