Rare corpse flower blooms in Botanic Gardens over the weekend

SINGAPORE – A big, foul-smelling flower of an exotic plant known as the elephant foot yam has fully bloomed over the weekend in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Planted by the Gardens in 2014, the Amorphophallus paeoniifolius blooms once every few years and the flower typically lasts for at most three days before it starts to wilt.

It emits a foul smell similar to that of a decomposing animal to attract pollinators such as flies and beetles, Dr Thereis Choo, coordinating director of Singapore Botanic Gardens, told The Straits Times.

Mr John Lee, 51, chanced upon the corpse flower – so called for the stench it emits – on Feb 26 during a stroll through the Healing Garden in the Gardens.

He said it was about 55cm in height and about 40cm in width.

“I recognised the shape of the flower from afar and was excited to see that it was really a corpse flower,” said Mr Lee, a wildlife photographer.

As he approached the plant, the stench resembled that of rotting flesh, and he felt the urge to vomit. The flower was nestled among other small plants in a shaded part of the garden.

Mr Lee said he missed the chance to see the flower over a year ago.

Its last sighting in Singapore was reported to be at the foot of a Housing Board block in Sembawang in June 2021. Just days after it bloomed, the flower, which spanned almost half a metre, was mysteriously cut down. It looked like it had been removed with a sharp blade, since the cut was clean.

Mr Lee had made a trip to Sembawang then to see it, but it was gone by the time he arrived.


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