It’s got the largest cluster of flowers—sometimes more than eight feet tall—of any plant in the world. It doesn’t flower often—maybe once every seven to 10 years. And when it does decide to flower, it emits a foul smell like the rotting body of an animal.
Rotty Top comes from the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. It usually lives in the biology greenhouse, but was moved—with a heat pad and humidifier—into Hesler Biology Building so members of the public can see and sniff it. Rotty Top bloomed in late July 2021.
Officially, it’s called the titan arum, or corpse flower. The specimen at UT which began to bloom for the first time since it arrived here two decades ago, is called Rotty Top.
“It’s a very unique plant,” said Jeff Martin, the greenhouse manager for UT’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. “It smells like a dead animal to attract flies, which are attracted to rotting animals. It’s bright crimson for the same reason. Botany courses use it for the students to understand different plants around the world. It’s a good teaching tool.”
Follow the UT Greenhouses on Instagram to learn more about our indoor plant collection, which is housed in four greenhouses and contains 575 different types of plants. The collection is used by majors in biology, plant science, and ecology and environmental biology, and it is visited officially each year by 300 students in 10 different classes.
Rotty Top In the News
- Whew! ‘Rotty Top’ Is a Flower Worth Sniffing
- ‘Rotty Top’ flower blooms at University of Tennessee for first time in 20 years
- Rotty Top, UT’s first corpse flower, is blooming! Here’s how to view the rare plant.
- Good Ol’ Rotty Top: A “Corpse Flower” blooms at the University of Tennessee
- Rotty Top Live: Keep watch as rare corpse flower expected to bloom at UT
- Corpse flower ‘Rotty Top’ set to bloom at University of Tennessee
- Corpse Flower With a Rotten Smell Set to Bloom at University of Tennessee at Knoxville
- Wake up and smell the corpse flower: Stinky, rare plant to bloom at University of Tennessee