Fester update: It may be bigger than Morty ever was!

Fester corpse flower Buffalo Erie County Botanical Gardens
Today Fester the corpse flower is 5 1/4 feet tall and growing. What you see is just one big flower. Photo courtesy Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Fester, the second stinky corpse flower to bloom at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, is already bigger than Morty was this year, and Fester may grow bigger than Morty was in 2014, said Erin Grajek,  associate vice president of Marketing & Visitor Experience at the Botanical Gardens.

Fester can grow two to eight inches per day and is now 63.5 inches or about 5 1/4 feet tall. Morty was about 4 1/2 feet tall this year, but was a huge 7 1/2 feet tall in 2014.

Fester doesn’t smell yet, but when it opens, it will smell like rotting flesh– hence the name corpse flower.

The staff estimates Fester may open fully in 10 days. The Botanical Gardens will be open for extended hours when that happens.

The Latin name for the plant is Amorphophallus titanum. It is in the arum family and is native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. They are famous for their horrible smell, which attracts pollinators, as well as for their huge blooms. What you see is actually one huge flower.

When they are not blooming, the plants send up enormous leaf structures to collect energy to bloom again in the future. Fester leafed for the first time at the Botanical Gardens in October 2015, though it may have leafed before it came to Buffalo. In 2015, the corms that leafed weren’t yet named, so we’re not sure if the large leaf seen the photo in this previous article was Fester or whether the corm that had just sprouted a leaf was Fester. What you see in that photo looks like a tree, but it’s actually one leaf.

See more updates on Fester on the Botanical Gardens’ websiteFacebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts – @BuffaloGardens and through Morty’s Twitter account @MortyStinks. Like and follow to keep up to date with Fester’s progress. Use hashtags #CorpseFlower and #FunkyFester when posting.

If you like unusual plants, participate in the Botanical Gardens’  Strange Likes Company campaign to help acquire strange and unique plants such as the monkey orchid, whose flower looks amazingly like the face of a monkey. See a photo here as well as some of the other plants the Botanical Gardens wants to add to its collection. Donate online, too.

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