The county Department of Parks and Recreation has announced the rare flowering of a “corpse plant” at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens.
Amorphophallus titanum, better known as a “corpse plant” for its distinctive aroma when in full bloom, is the world’s largest unbranched inflorescence (cluster of flowers), capable of growing more than 10 feet tall.
“Stinky 2” has a 3-foot-tall bud that’s expected to bloom within the next two to three weeks, said Pam Mizuno, manager of the Pana‘ewa Recreation Complex that includes an equestrian center. When that happens, the plant will release sulfur that smells like rotting corpses, hence its ominous nickname. This odor attracts beetles and flesh flies that pollinate the plant.
In their native habitat of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, corpse plants bloom only a few times in 100 years. This sporadic blooming produces a flower that lasts only a couple days and can weigh hundreds of pounds.
Artist Hiroshi Tagami donated two corpse plants to the zoo in 2002. The plants, estimated to be two years old at the time of the donation, have been thriving in the zoo’s tropical environment.
The first one bloomed in 2011, attracting large crowds of curious onlookers and wide-spread media coverage. The corpse flower is growing in the exhibit located next to the zoo’s feral pig and across from the large mixed-parrot aviary.
Located off of Stainback Highway about five miles south of Hilo, the 12-acre Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free.
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