Go back

Austin Peay’s corpse flower finds temporary home at Nashville Zoo

By: Colby Wilson May 30, 2024


Zeus, Austin Peay State University’s corpse flower, receives a visit from Nashville Zoo employees as they prepare for his move. The plant will return to Austin Peay after repairs to the College of STEM’s storm-damaged greenhouse.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Zeus, Austin Peay State University’s corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum), is now on display at the Nashville Zoo during his 2024 bloom.

The 12-year-old titan arum, also known as the corpse flower because the species smells of rotting flesh in full bloom, is preparing for its second bloom cycle since 2022. Recent storms have made Zeus’ home in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Greenhouse unsuitable for the plant and visitors until repairs are done.

“We are thrilled that the Nashville Zoo will host Zeus until our greenhouse is repaired,” said Dr. Karen Meisch, dean of the College of STEM. “We’re relieved to know he’ll be in great hands and where so many can enjoy him during his bloom period.”

Zeus, Austin Peay State University’s corpse flower, settles into his temporary home at the Nashville Zoo.The corpse flower is one of the world's largest flowers, growing over 10 feet tall. It consists of a single leaf that can reach the size of a small tree. Each year, the plant dies and regrows again from a giant corm (tuber). After several years of seasonal growth, the plant goes dormant, and the flower sprouts soon afterward.

When the corpse flower blooms, it emits an odor similar to rotting flesh, giving it its common name. Blooming is unpredictable - under good conditions, it can happen every two to three years, while some corpse flowers have been known to bloom every seven to 10 years. The bloom itself lasts only a couple of days.

The Nashville Zoo staff, led by Horticulture Manager David Farrow, will care for Zeus at the HCA Veterinary Center Plaza through this bloom cycle until his campus home is repaired. The zoo is well-prepared to care for Zeus, having six titan arums of its own — including one of Zeus’s siblings, Carmen, which bloomed in 2020. The zoo also hosted a corpse flower on loan from a private collection in Franklin that bloomed in April 2021.

A live feed of Zeus during his bloom period at the Nashville Zoo is available HERE.

About the Austin Peay College of STEM

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) provides studies for students in the areas of agriculture, astronomy, aviation sciences, biology, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental sciences, engineering physics, engineering technology, information technology, mathematics, medical laboratory sciences, radiologic sciences and physics. Our outstanding, discipline-based programs are student-centered and designed to prepare students for responsible positions at all levels of research, industry, education, medicine and government positions.