3, 2, 1…Days until Blooming of Rare, Smelly Plants at Selby Gardens

July 14, 2016

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Audrey as of 1:00 pm Monday, August 1.

BLOOM UPDATE, 8/5, 10 AM:  Seymour and Audrey have made their way back in the research houses for safekeeping. We will continue to monitor Aurdey’s flower to see if they bear fruits from the pollination. Goodbye until next time!

BLOOM UPDATE, 8/4, 11 AM: Thank you to everyone who came to visit Audrey and Seymour during “Stink at Selby.” We hope you enjoyed this rare botanical event of two titans nearly synchronized in bloom. 

BLOOM UPDATE, 8/2, 7 AM: Audrey was a super-smelly surprise yesterday! Our horitculture team pollinated her with pollen from Seymour yesterday, and this morning her spadix is a little floppy at the top, which may be a sign of a successful pollination. She still has a scent and is displaying her maroon exterior. We are open regular hours today, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

BLOOM UPDATE, 8/1, 1:30PM: Turns out Audrey IS opening today! Be sure to stop by and take a whiff…we will be open until 9PM tonight!

BLOOM UPDATE, 8/1: We are amazed at how large Audrey is – not just tall but thick! Her spadix is massive and is now topping off at a very impressive 74 inches tall – the largest Titan we’ve had at Selby Gardens! She doesn’t seem ready for opening today, but you never know…

BLOOM UPDATE, 7/31: Audrey is exactly six feet tall today, and growing, albeit a bit more slowly. No odor yet, but we will keep checking throughout the day.  

Seymour had his spathe removed this morning to collect the rest of his fallen pollen. He is still on display so our visitors can see the flowers attached to the spadix.

Stay tuned for more updates on Audrey’s bloom (it could be anytime over the next several days). You definitely want to come see and smell this fascinating plant!

For the latest images, visit our Facebook or Instagram pages.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SARASOTA, FLA. – July 13, 2016: — The famous corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) that is known for its putrid scent is set to produce two blooms at Selby Gardens from late July through early August.

Known as “Seymour” and “Audrey,” the two plants will bloom within days of each other, releasing a scent similar to rotting fish and sweaty socks, at best. It is extremely rare to have two of these plants bloom together, and horticulturists will attempt to pollinate “Audrey” with pollen from “Seymour.” Corpse flowers normally bloom every three to seven years.

“Typically these plants flower erratically, but somehow Seymour and Audrey have become synchronized. This will be their second bloom together,” said Mike McLaughlin, Director of Horticulture at Selby Gardens. “We have an amazing opportunity to propagate the corpse flower and create fruits from these plants. Perhaps there is something of a love story between these two.”

The plants are named for the main characters in “Little Shop of Horrors,” a musical that was popularized in the 1986 film starring Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene. The 30-year-old movie featured a carnivorous, man-eating plant with a thirst for blood.

In honor of this extremely rare spectacle, Selby Gardens is offering late-night visitation hours on select nights and a special membership package for those looking to make repeated visits to monitor the plants’ progress. The plants are on display now through the completion of their bloom cycles in the Selby Gardens conservatory.

The scent of the corpse flower – which isn’t actually a flower, but a cluster of flowers called an inflorescence – is created to attract the beetles and flies that pollinate it. The stench only lasts during the 12 to 48 hours that the inflorescence is open and is gut-wrenchingly strong. This master of mimicry resembles rotting meat in more ways than smell — the insides of the spathe are blood red, and as it blooms, the inflorescence heats up about 100 degrees, or several degrees above human body temperature, in order to increase the distance from which it can be “nosed out” by potential pollinators.

Since the last bloom in June 2014, Selby Gardens horticulturists have been tending to the plants in a “backstage” greenhouse. The plants first indicated a bloom at the end of June with Seymour displaying a shoot first, McLaughlin said. The plants grow two to six inches a day. The growth will culminate with a bloom when the inflorescence spadit reaches at about six to eight feet in height.

Selby Gardens invites guests to join us in watching Seymour and Audrey’s progress in all their scent-filled glory. While the horticulture team predicts Seymour will bloom around July 23 – 24 and Audrey August 1 – 3, they remind us that the blooming can be very unpredictable. Updates will be offered regularly on Selby Gardens’ Instagram and Facebook pages (search @selbygardens). Visitors are encouraged to share their photos on social media using the hashtag #stinkatselby.

More about Amorphophallus titanum

  • Corpse flowers are the world’s largest un-branched flower structures and typically only bloom every three to seven years.
  • Corpse flowers are native only to Sumatra, Indonesia and are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. However, the most distinctive trait of this plant is not its size or global population, but its smell.
  • Corpse flowers are very difficult to grow, requiring warm, humid greenhouse conditions to thrive.
  • The substances responsible for the pungent scent are dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, timethylamine, isovaleric acid and indole, as well as benzyl alcohol and phenol.
    • Dimethyl trisulfide = Limburger cheese!
    • Dimethyl disulfide + trimethylamine = rotting fish
    • Isovaleric acid = sweaty socks
    • Indole = human feces

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About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, epiphytes and tropical plants with a focus on botany, horticulture and environmental education. For more information, please visit www.selby.org. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas, regular admission $19 (ages 12 and up), ages 4-11 $6, Members and children 3 and under enter free. Contact us at (941) 366-5731 or selby.org.  Get social with us on Facebook, Instagram and more by searching @selbygardens.

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Tags: amorphophallus titanum, corpse flower, florida, horticulture, plant display, sarasota, selby, selby gardens, smelly flower, stinky flower