Flower of the Month: The Corpse Flower
Image: D.H. Parks via Flickr
Welcome to the first piece of a new series! Each month, we'll look into the meaning & use of a certain kind of flower. This month, just in time for Halloween, let's look at the spookily-named Corpse Flower!
Originating in the tropical jungles of Indonesia, Malaysia & Sumatra, this 6ft tall flower is not one you'll be seeing in any floral arrangements, and not just due to their "dead animal" fragrance. They bloom very infrequently in the wild, and even less often when cultivated. The first recorded instance of one blooming in the US occurred in 1937 at my floral design alma mater (woo-hoo!), The New York Botanical Garden. Fun fact, this lead to the Corpse Flower being named the official flower of the Bronx from 1939 until 2000! What a legacy.
Even if you won't be seeing any corpse flowers outside of a few specialized areas, you can think of them whenever you see their much more popular (and much less smelly) cousins: the Calla Lily!
Image: Kenphot via Morguefile
Calla Lilies are available in a rainbow of colors and sizes, and are used in a huge variety of arrangements- bouquets, centerpieces, corsages and boutonnieres. Although they grow quite literally like weeds in Southern California, you'll most likely have to purchase callas from a florist or grower here in New England. I like them for their unique shape and because their petals are a bit more resistant to bruising than other lilies. However, their stems are still fragile, so handle and store with care!
And be sure to spare a thought for their malodorous and rare cousin, the Corpse Flower, when you next see a Calla Lily!