Who wants to see a plant that’s as tall as a person and reeks of decaying flesh? (Aside from everyone in the Live Science newsroom, that is.)
This particular A. titanum arrived at the Barnard greenhouse seven years ago, a gift from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. At the time, it was a tuberous bulb that weighed about 1 lb. (0.5 kilograms) and was the size of a large potato. Under the care of greenhouse horticulturist Nicholas Gershberg, the Barnard corpse plant now weighs more than 40 lbs. (18 kg) and sports a flower standing over 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall, said greenhouse director Hilary Callahan, a professor of biological sciences at Barnard.
The plant began to bloom in April, with a leaf-wrapped cylindrical stalk poking straight up from the center, and grew to its current height in about two months, Callahan told Live Science. “Then it dramatically opened up like a pleated cloak, or a collar of a fancy blouse,” Callahan said. “We joked that it looks like a costume Billy Porter would wear on the red carpet.”