Unfortunately, we came in this morning to discover that Reek has suffered from our recent extreme Texas heat. In its native habitat, the corpse flower does not experience temperatures much above 90 degrees. While the plant has not perished, the bloom has been lost this time around.
Backstory on Reek 7/26/15
We have a corpse flower at the Zoo! Our horticulture team has appropriately named the flower known for its odor, Reek. We are now closely monitoring this incredible plant species and expect the pungent bloom to appear in the coming weeks. It’s impossible to know exactly when the corpse flower will begin blooming, but we’re keeping a watchful eye and we’ll be sure to let everyone know when the “magic” begins. Take a look at the progress so far!
What the heck is a corpse flower?!
Native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, the corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanium) is the largest inflorescence in the world. Not technically a flower by itself, the cluster of flowers are located on the large, misshaped stalk seen emerging from the center of the display. It takes about 7-10 years for the plant to bloom for the first time and the bloom lasts only 24-48 hours.
Amorphophallus titanium gets the common name, corpse flower, from the odor it releases which is reminiscent of the smell of decomposing mammals (yum). During flowering, the plant warms up to 96-100⁰F to help carry the smell for up to a half mile. The corpse flower has evolved to exude this smell in order to attract flies and carrion beetles, which act as pollinators for the plant.
These plants are at risk in their native habitat due to deforestation which is also endangering many animal species, including the rhinoceros hornbill, an important seed distributor for this plant as well as many others.