Rare Plant Set to Bloom at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

A rare plant collected in Belize is approaching flowering stage for the first time at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This unusual plant species with a tongue-twisting Latin name (Deherainia smaragdina) was collected in 1998 by Selby botanist Bruce Holst during an expedition to help identify areas of high ecological and conservation importance. The plant produces medium-sized, emerald green flowers that produce an odor comparable to strong cheese. In nature, this unusual odor attracts flies to effect pollination. The Spanish common name for this plant is “flor de muerto,” or flower of the dead. Another unusual feature of the plant is that the trunk and stem are completely covered with soft hairs that provide a felt-like texture. Known in cultivation at a few European botanical gardens, this species is extremely rare outside of its native range of southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. Flowering is expected to occur in the coming week or two, though it is not known how long the flowers will last.