June 10, 2012: Rare Corpse Flower Blooming at Sarasota’s Selby Botanical Gardens

The Corpse Flower is Ready for Its Close Up, June 10, 2012, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.
The Corpse Flower is Ready for Its Close Up, June 10, 2012, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.

Sticking my nose close enough to get a whiff of Amorphophallus titanum was equivalent to sticking my head in a garbage can with a week-old piece of rotting meat. Or, was it the stench of ripe road kill roasting in the sun?

Either way, the “corpse flower” – named for its foul odor – lived up to its reputation as being one beautiful yet stinky bloom. Those of us living in Southwest Florida can see and smell one of the world’s largest flowers at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. Better hurry, the flower began opening yesterday and garden officials anticipate the foul-smelling bloom will be closed by Tuesday, June 12.

Corpse Flower in Bloom, June 10, 2012, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.
Corpse Flower in Bloom, June 10, 2012, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.

Corpse Flower is One Stinky Bloom

In Greek, Amorphophallus titanum means “giant misshapen phallus” (take a look) and according to the Selby website, it was given the more civilized name of titan arum, by Sir David Attenborough. This species of plant comes from the Indonesia island of Sumatra and blooms irregularly, such as every 10 to 12 years. The last time a corpse flower bloomed at Selby was in 2005. The one in bloom today was planted in 2001 and it’s the first time it has bloomed.

Scenic View of the Sarasota Waterfront, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.
Scenic View of the Sarasota Waterfront, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.

It seems every time one of these flowers bloom somewhere in the U.S., it makes the news. In fact, I saw a news story earlier this week about one blooming somewhere. With all the hype, I was expecting to walk into the Selby Conservancy and be overwhelmed with a horrid smell. Instead, I had to stick my nose about a foot away from the bloom before smelling the decay-like odor.

It's Not Cool to do this to Bamboo! Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.
It's Not Cool to do this to Bamboo! Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.

A volunteer stood by answering questions and said his nickname for the plant is “Stinky” and admitted the smell wasn’t as strong today as it was yesterday.

In addition to paying respects to the corpse flower, I walked the garden grounds to see other beautiful blooms, botanicals and bird life. I also spent some time at the koi pond to watch the fish and a young duck play in the water. With the sun beaming down, it was an absolutely beautiful day to enjoy Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

Have you ever smelled the corpse flower? What did you think?

Moreton Bay Fig, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.
Moreton Bay Fig, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
900 South Palm
Sarasota, Fla. 34236
Tel: 941-366-5731
www.selby.org
Located on Sarasota’s bay front, the Gardens are open daily, except Christmas, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $17 for adults, $6 for children 6 – 11 and children 5 and younger are free. Pick up a Selby Gardens brochure for a $1 off admission coupon.

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Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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