Devil's Tongue flower comes to life in continuing five-year cycle

August 29, 2014 by Andrew Baulcomb
Biology Greenhouse technician Arthur Yeas measures the imposing Devil's Tongue on Thursday morning. The plant currently measures 58 inches. 

A rare plant at the McMaster Biology Greenhouse is finally showing its true colours (and odours), and may not bloom for another five years.

The towering Devil's Tongue, also known as a Voodoo Lily or Amorphophallus konjac, is native to tropical Indonesia and has the dubious distinction of being one of the smelliest on earth.

The flowering at McMaster was a remarkable surprise.

"I was told by someone a plant flowered at the Royal Botanical Gardens many years ago, but I can find no record of it blooming at the RBG. Our plant may not bloom for another five years or so," said greenhouse technician Arthur Yeas.

"I do not believe exceptionally large specimens of this plant are common in our part of the world. Our flower is growing from a corm weighing 10 pounds, and the bud was growing six-eight inches every day."

Despite its pungent corpse-like aroma, the Devil's Tongue has been used in food and medicine for more than 1,500 years.

The Japanese make a popular dish from the plant known as konnyaku. Those who eat the dish are said to be devouring the devil's tongue.

'I do not believe exceptionally large specimens of this plant are common in our part of the world. Our flower is growing from a corm weighing 10 pounds, and the bud was growing six-eight inches every day,' said greenhouse technician Arthur Yeas. Far right: the Devil's Tongue flower on Thursday morning, now fully bloomed. - See more at:

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5 / 5 (3) Aug 29, 2014
It was a great pleasure to see the Amorphophallus konjac in bloom yesterday at McMaster University! A beautiful specimen. If you are in the area I strongly recommend a visit.

At Royal Botanical Gardens (McMaster's next-door neighbor, in Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario) our Devil's Tongue specimen bloomed in late February 2013.

David A. Galbraith, Ph.D.
Head of Science, Royal Botanical Gardens
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2014
There is nothing unusual about a blooming plant of this species. I've had flowers over 7 ft. tall, from tubers over 14 lbs., which is still not unusual. And A. konjac is not a particularly smelly species.
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