And She Was

Morticia, the Franklin Park Zoo‘s Amorphophallus titanum, a.k.a. giant corpse flower, a.k.a. Bungka Bankai, a.k.a. titan arum, in bloom.

Titan Arum, Franklin Park Zoo (Meg Muckenhoupt)

Want to meet the rest of her family?

The Franklin Park Zoo actually has five titan arums: Morticia, Fester, Edgar, Pugsley, and He Who Has Not Been Named. Here’s what they look like:

Fester, the faded titan arum—Meg Muckenhoupt

Fester, the faded titan arum—Meg Muckenhoupt

 

Pugsley, Vincent, and the Nameless One (terracotta pot)—Meg Muckenhoupt

Pugsley, Vincent, and the Nameless One (terracotta pot)—Meg Muckenhoupt

Pugsley

Pugsley—Meg Muckenhoupt

The kind Laconia area dentist gave the Franklin Park Zoo five titan arums in different stages of their life cycle. Beneath Morticia and Fester is something like a 50-pound potato. When an innocent young titan arum fails to be fertilized (oh woe!), it wilts, then sends up a stalk which becomes a fairly unassuming-looking tree, and sits and knits its chlorophyll until it has the stamina to bloom again.

You’ll find a lovely explanation of the whole Bungka Bankai life cycle at the University of Wisconsin-Madison botany department’s titan arum archive.

Morticia

Morticia—Meg Muckenhoupt