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Posted on Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Matthaei Botanical Garden's voodoo lily to bloom by Monday

By Lisa Carolin

Visitors to Matthaei Botanical Gardens in the next few days may get a very unpleasant scent accompanied by a beautifully unique-looking plant. The voodoo lily is about to bloom, and when it does, it gives off the smell of rotting flesh. It is located in the temperate house of the gardens' conservatory.

"It has bloomed here before and really caused quite a stir," said Joe Mooney, who does marketing and communications for Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

Amorphophallus konjac.jpg

A voodoo lilly, also known as an Amorphophallus konjac, is about to bloom in the conservatory at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. This is the photo of one that bloomed there several years ago.

Courtesy photo

Mooney says the temperature impacts when the voodoo lily blooms.

"It should open its flower between now and Monday," he said. "It has the most amazing smell and is an incredibly beautiful flower with a deep purple robe wrapped around it."

Mooney added that the smell and the bloom last for two to three days.

As of Saturday afternoon, Matthaei's events planner Heather Hunter says, "It's just starting to unfurl a little bit."

She says that anytime people hear about a unique plant at the gardens, it is a draw.

The voodoo lily is a perennial plant with the scientific name Amorphophallus konjac. It grows from a bulb-like structure called a corm. The chemicals the flower gives off, which are called putrescine and cadaverine, attract pollinators such as flies.

The plant is native to warm subtropical climates and is found in Japan, Korea, and parts of China south to Indonesia. Konnyaku, also known as yam cake, is a food made from the root of the voodoo lily, and its corms are used to create flour and jelly as well as being used as a vegan substitute for gelatin.

For an update on the progress of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens voodoo lily, go to the garden's Facebook page.


Renee S.

Mon, Mar 25, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

As of Monday afternoon, the plant has still not flowered. Very disappointed visitors when I visited today! But still well worth visiting, of course.

Ron Burgandy

Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Ron Burgundy: Let's go to Brian Fantana who's live on the scene with a Channel 4 News exclusive. Brian? Brian Fantana: Voodoo lily Watch. The mood is tense; I have been on some serious, serious reports but nothing quite like this. I uh...Amorphophallus konjac is inside the conservatory right now. I tried to get an interview with him, but they said no, you can't do that he's a live plant, he will literally rip your face off.


Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Beautiful flower.


Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

I used to love riding our bicycles through the botanical gardens, not sure about the Matthaei name on it, back when we were grade schoolers. It was behind the Morgan York store with an entrance from Coler and stretched back as far as S. Industrial which wasn't built yet. Still enjoy it to this day.


Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

Speaking of large, aggressive plants, people should know that U-M Musket is presenting the hilarious Broadway musical "Little Shop of Horrors" -- one of whose central characters is Audrey II, a venus fly trap--like plant -- at the Power Center on the U-M main campus, 121 Fletcher St. The final performance is Sunday at 2:00 PM; tickets at the Power Center box office, starting at 1:00, or online.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.


Jack Gladney

Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 12:25 a.m.

Can you say amorphophallus without having your comment deleted?


Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

YOU can, but whenever I try it sounds like A comment that violated's conversation guidelines was removed.


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

odd bloom...I remember when Mr.Tuttle sold the bulbs at art fairs (he ran a business called saguaro exotic plants,or something like that?...) I picked up a few.The foliage stage was more interesting to me.The bigger the bulb(or it might be a corm?) the bigger the plant.I planted a bulb/corm a foot across in a huge pot one spring,years ago,and this HUGE prehistoric-looking umbrella-like plant grew like 3 inches a day to 6 1/2 feet.It was awesome.


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

Open on the Sundays?

Linda Peck

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

Thank you for the post! Worthy of going to see this!

An Arborigine

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 9:11 p.m.

And smell it, yummy!