• Over a thousand people queued up outside an abandoned gas station in San Francisco’s Bay Area this week to catch a glimpse of the extremely rare and aptly named ‘corpse flower’.


  • The ‘corpse flower’ is a flowering plant, which is native to the rainforests of Sumatra in Indonesia. The scientific name of the rare plant, Amorphophallus titanum, quite literally translates to giant, misshapen phallus — presumably due to its appearance.
  • In about a decade, the ‘corpse flower’ can grow to be up to 10 feet tall and unveil two of its key components — a deep red skirt-like petal known as the spathe and a yellow rod-like ‘spadix’.
  • Another crucial component of the plant is the ‘corm’, a fleshy underground plant stem which acts as a storage organ where the corpse plant’s energy is stored. The unique plant is said to have the biggest corm in existence, sometimes weighing around 100 kgs.
  • The corpse flower is known to be one of the world’s largest ‘unbranched inflorescence’ or a stalk bearing a cluster of flowers. The average corpse flower has a lifespan of about three-four decades.

What is behind the corpse flower’s putrid stench?

  • Apart from its appearance, the flower is known for its pungent stench, which is said to be like rotting meat or a decaying cadaver. The plant emits the distinct smell only when it is in bloom, which happens once every 10 years or so and only for a brief period.
  • The main odorant which gave the flower its distinct smell was dimethyl trisulfide, the same compound that is emitted from cancerous wounds, microorganisms, and some vegetables.

Quiz of the Day for IAS Prepation
Test Your UPSC Preparation With Vajirao's Daily Current Affairs Quiz

Select the correct answer and click on the “Finish” button Check your score and explanations at the end of the quiz

Start Quiz