Corpse Flower Still Hasn't Opened, High Temp Perhaps To Blame

Jul 24, 2017

The corpse flower at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens still hasn’t bloomed and last week's scorching temperatures might be to blame.

This variety of corpse flower, Titan arum, comes from Sumatra, an Indonesian island known for its rugged, tropical terrain. For this reason, you’d think the plant fared well during last week’s scorching temperatures.

But top temps experienced by Titan arums in Sumatra usually only reach into the 80s. The Botanical Garden’s curatorial horticulturist Derek Carwood says that's probably why the flower hasn't yet opened to released its storied scent of rotting carrion. 

"The spadix, the central portion of the flower, actually heats up to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s ready to fully open and release the odor," he says. "So if the ambient temperature is too hot, what we’re thinking is that that has kind of stymied some of the growth.  And the plant is acutely waiting for those cooler temperatures to actually get the cue to open up and to start heating up on its own."

Carwood says the corpse flower is continuing to grow and swell, which means it’s still on course to bloom.