Long-Awaited Corpse Flower Blooms at Dartmouth College

  • Dartmouth College students Sarah Oh, of Los Angeles, Calif., right; Min Hyung Kang, of Seoul, South Korea, top left; and Chae Kim, also of Seoul, bottom left, visit the Dartmouth Life Sciences Greenhouse in Hanover, N.H., on September 22, 2016, to see Morphy, an Amorphophallus titanum plant that is in the process of blooming. The plant’s flower began to open on Friday, September 23, and it is now in the period when it will smell like rotting flesh. In the wild, the smell would draw carnivorous insects to pollinate the plant. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hundreds of visitors a day have been flocking to the Life Sciences Greenhouse at Dartmouth College to stare at Morphy the corpse flower, waiting for it to bloom and release its awful smell.

When it is fully open, it releases a scent that has been likened to rotting meat, decomposing flesh, urine and excrement

The wait is over. At a little more than 7 feet tall, Morphy is a prime, 13-year-old specimen of Titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum — and it began to bloom Friday afternoon.

The college acquired the plant nine years ago from a corpse flower collector who lives in New Hampshire, according to Kim DeLong, the greenhouse manager and curator.

On average the corpse flower blooms every six years, although Morphy last bloomed in 2011, DeLong said. As it prepares to flower, the plant puts on extraordinary growth, from 3 to 4 inches a day. When the plant’s growth slows that is one indication that it is getting ready to bloom. The flower is open for only two to three days, and the smell, which is released by the female flowers, is at its most intense in the first 12 hours, DeLong said.

When it flowers in nature, the flies and beetles are attracted by the scent.

Morphy has its own web page, and its own live video feed.


Posted online Friday at 5 p.m. Find a full report in Saturday’s Valley News.