Photo Gallery:

Photo Gallery:

Alisa Opar
Published: 07/28/2010

An  employee takes precautions to avoid the odor Lois gives off. Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science

Usually when flowers bloom, you want to lean in and breathe deep to inhale the floral scent. Not so much with Amorphophallus titanum, more commonly called the corpse flower for the stench of decay it gives off. These Sumatran plants have a single leaf that can spread six feet across and a phallic flower structure that can top out at 10 feet high. Oh, and they might not bloom for a decade or so; when they do bloom, they unwrap a magnificent purple leaf over three or four days, and then the whole thing wilts like a hot air balloon that’s lost heat. 
 

Over the last week Lois, the corpse flower at the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, bloomed. Here are photos of the large, rare, smelly flower’s progression. For more photos, visit the HMNS Flickr site.


Lois on July 15. Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science


Lois on July 20. Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science


July 21. Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science
 

July 22. Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science
 

July 23: Lois’ spadix was measured at 90 degrees. Corpse flowers have been know to heat up to human body temperature to better spread their unique smell. Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science
On July 25 Lois began to wilt. Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science
 

Now that the spadix has collapsed, the corm (the base of the plant that is under the dirt) will reabsorb as much of the flower as possible before it goes into dormancy. Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science
 
And here’s a time-lapse video of another corpse flower that bloomed last month at Western Illinois University Botany Greenhouse. 
 

Finally, for gorgeous photos of the corpse flower and other rare flowers, check out our photo gallery of Jonathan Singer’s work. 

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