The penis plant is rare and has flourished – Photo: Hortus botanicus Leiden / Instagram / clone
A rare plant known as the “penis plant” has blossomed in a Dutch garden after more than 20 years. Amorphophallus decus-silvae is six years old and was cultivated by volunteer Rudmer Postma. According to the Botanical Garden of Leiden University in the Netherlands, this is the third time the species has bloomed in Europe since 1997.
The garden team first noticed a flower bud in mid-September, and in just over a month it had grown from about half a meter to two meters in height. With a narrow stem, the plant has a strong aroma, defined in a statement from the Botanical Garden by the smell of “rotten flesh”, which makes it attract flies.
“First, the blooms are female: the spadix (the white, rod-shaped part of the inflorescence) heats up and emits a pungent smell of rotting flesh. Flies and other pollinators love this smell and migrate to the plant. So the plant blooms poorly: it produces pollen that covers the flies. After flowering The flies, covered in pollen, leave for their next meal,” the statement explains.
In 1993 and 1997, the same species, but a different plant, bloomed in Hortus Leiden. According to the team, only a few botanical gardens have Amorphophallus decus-silvae in their collection, which makes flowering of the plant especially rare.
Relatives of the plant include Amorphophallus gigas and Amorphophallus titanum, or corpse plant, the latter of which is known for its foul smell during the flowering period. The “penis plant” has its origins in Indonesia, a place rich in tropical forests.
The plant is difficult to flower because it needs certain conditions such as a very hot and very humid environment. However, the Hortus Postma volunteer managed to bring the plant to this point.
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