A live video stream was featured at the top of this article while “Rotty Top” was blooming, July 29-31, 2021.
Another article includes details about that particular plant and the event.
The corpse plant at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has not bloomed in 20 years
The titan arum (Amorphophalus titanum), native to Sumatra, is remarkable for several reasons.
It is more often referred to by colloquial names, such as corpse flower, rotting corpse plant or carrion plant, because of the strong distinct odor it releases to attract pollinators when it flowers.
No other species of flowering plant has an unbranched inflorescence, or flower-bearing reproductive part, as large as titan arum. Unbranched means that all flowers grow from a single stem; a gigantic one in this case. A record height above corm (underground storage tuber) of 10.5 ft was measured at Bonn Botanical Gardens in June 21, 2013.
When an inflorescence has many small flowers on a fleshy stem and is initially enclosed by a leaf-like sheath, botanists call it a spadix and its sheath a spathe. Even after the spathe has opened, the flowers are hard to see because they are so small and near the bottom of the stem. In the absence of a balcony above, viewers would have to be on a ladder to peek down into the narrow part of the spathe. It’s not the flowers that are spectacular — it’s the overwhelming size, overall shape and sheer beauty of the plant!
Carrion beetles and flesh flies are titan arum’s pollinators. It has evolved unparalleled capacity to attract them. While flowering, it heats up the tip of the spadix to the range of mammalian body temperatures, which not only helps volatilize the odors to entice insects from far away, but may be sensed by some of them to further indicate proximity of food. The plant has opened the spathe like a wide cocktail glass to show its inside surface. The deep red color and texture could buttress the illusion of a big chunk of carrion.
Why is it even rarer to see titan arum fruit in a botanical garden?
Outside the equatorial region, botanical gardens cannot cultivate many corpse plants due to their size. The typical interval between blooms is five to twelve years.
The actual flowers last one day only. Female flowers bloom first. One or two days later the male flowers bloom. This normally prevents self-pollination. As these plants bloom so rarely, chances are slim to have viable pollen on hand for artificial pollination.